Any Jewish families not circ? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 02-16-2010, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am pregnant with our second child, and it our u/s was inconclusive, but the tech said "maybe a boy". So, dh and I need to face this difficult issue. Together, we decided that we will not be circing if dc turns out to be a boy. We are very comfortable with our decision, other than how our families and friends will deal with it. We both come from large Conservative families, and we are friends with several Jewish families.

Are there any Jewish parents on this board that decided not to circ? I am looking for any resources on this subject on how to best approach this subject with our families. I realize it isn't anyone's business but our own, but we are very close with our families, and this will probably be a tough one for them. Especially for my mom, who will have to explain to her rather large group of Jewish friends why they won't be invited to a bris.

I'm also worried about having an uncirc'd ds in preschool at our synagogue, and how the teachers will react to him when they take him potty.

If anyone can offer any experiences or places to look into, I would greatly appreciate it.
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#2 of 19 Old 02-16-2010, 10:17 PM
 
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We did not have a bris for any of our boys. Our families are not observant, nor particularly close, so it wasn't much of an issue for us. Our childrearing practices are so different from older generations (homebirths, slings, breastfeeding, no CIO, no playpens, no bottles, no formula, no hard shoes, etc.) that they passed this off as just one more weird thing that we do/don't do. Our mainstream Jewish friends also just thought we were weird about everything so they never said anything to us about not having a bris. Our more alternative Jewish friends have intact boys too, so for them it was a non issue.

I'm sorry that I don't really have much advice to offer you. Just wanted you to know that you are not alone.

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#3 of 19 Old 02-16-2010, 10:30 PM
 
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I'll be watching this thread. I've thought for years that it would be an easy decision not to circ, but now something's making me rethink this... I'm not sure why. There are a number of customs we don't follow (we don't keep kosher, etc.)... I think it might have more to do with the fact that all the brises (is that a word?) I've been to have been wonderful, warm, lovely family gatherings and I'll miss that. I'm living in a different state from the rest of my family for the first time ever, so I think it's mostly nostalgia.

Years ago I came across articles and information on having a bris without the circumcision- wording and ideas for a ceremony more similar to a baby naming. I'm going to have to start looking into that.

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#4 of 19 Old 02-17-2010, 01:27 AM
 
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http://www.circumstitions.com/Jewish.html

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#5 of 19 Old 02-17-2010, 01:40 AM
 
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I broke away from my Jewish background over this choice. My son was circ'd and has pretty severe problems from it. After investigating, I could never belong to a synagogue where it was an issue. Of course we live 2+ hours from a synagogue anyway, so we aren't observant at all.

Are you Conservative? Reform synagogues take the issue much easier.

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#6 of 19 Old 02-17-2010, 02:59 AM
 
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I can't help you with the decision to circumcise, since as an Orthodox Jew I'll definitely be circumcising, I can assure you that people are not going to look at your son differently if he isn't circed. If you aren't particularly religious, I'd bet you're not going to send your son to a very religious preschool, probably more like a JCC preschool, am I correct? If so, you're going to find the gamut of Jewish people including other people who may not circ. Now, if you're going to send your son to a preschool that is affiliated with a movement that puts alot of emphasis on religious rituals, such as a Chabad preschool or something like that, you might get some raised eyebrows or questions, but I don't think ultimately its a problem.

Beyond preschool, I don't see how its any of anyones business whether or not your son is circed. Whats in your son's pants is private and its technically YOUR mitzvah (well TECHINICALLY its your husbands mitzvah) to circumsise your son, not anyone elses. Therefore, its your choice. In terms of your family, you're going to have to be prepared for questions about your choice and just get together with your husband and come up with the response you want to make together to people who ask questions. Its normal for people to want to know why you're "bucking the trend" so try not to be defensive, even if they may think you're making the wrong decision.

One of the things about a bris that is so beautiful is the concept of welcoming a child into the Jewish faith and introducing him by his name for the first time officially. When you proclaim the name of your child at the bris, that's the name that spiritually he will be known as and there's alot of really nice things written about that. Perhaps instead of having a bris where the child is circed if you're uncomfortable with that aspect, you could have a ceremony more similar to a baby naming that people have for daughters which is essentially a proclimation of the name and a formal welcome into the Jewish faith, as well as a celebration of the new baby. Maybe that might placate your parents a little bit as a nod to part of the tradition of the bris, but without the part that you specifically object to.

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#7 of 19 Old 02-17-2010, 11:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by SeattleRain View Post
One of the things about a bris that is so beautiful is the concept of welcoming a child into the Jewish faith and introducing him by his name for the first time officially. When you proclaim the name of your child at the bris, that's the name that spiritually he will be known as and there's alot of really nice things written about that. Perhaps instead of having a bris where the child is circed if you're uncomfortable with that aspect, you could have a ceremony more similar to a baby naming that people have for daughters which is essentially a proclimation of the name and a formal welcome into the Jewish faith, as well as a celebration of the new baby. Maybe that might placate your parents a little bit as a nod to part of the tradition of the bris, but without the part that you specifically object to.
That is a great idea. A lot of people have been doing this sort of thing lately.

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#8 of 19 Old 02-17-2010, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's great to hear that there are other Jewish parents not circing their boys! I was afraid we would be the only ones.

We do belong to a Conservative synagogue, and that is where dd currently goes to pre-school and where our next dc will likely go. So, if this dc turns out to be a boy, I'm pretty sure we'll get some raised eyebrows.

But, like a pp said, we do a lot of things differently. We don't vax, I bf dd until she was 25 months, both dh and I still wear dd when she doesn't want to walk, no CIO, eat almost entirely organic foods and very little processed foods, so I'm sure on some level, this will just get put into that lump of "crunchy" things we do.

I'm just a little worried about the synagogue reaction. For my dd, we had a beautiful naming ceremony and nearly 100 people showed up to hear her name and to welcome her into the world. I am hoping that the synagogue/rabbi will be willing to do this for a boy too. I haven't checked on our rabbi's policy, but I have read stories online that some rabbis are unwilling to do this without a bris.

To Dashsmom- I am so jealous that you have Jewish friends who also didn't circ! Everyone I know did. We are really going to be weirdos in our circle... more than we already are!

Thanks for the support! Even though none of live near each other, it's good to hear there are moms like you out there.
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#9 of 19 Old 02-17-2010, 04:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ammiga View Post

I'm just a little worried about the synagogue reaction. For my dd, we had a beautiful naming ceremony and nearly 100 people showed up to hear her name and to welcome her into the world. I am hoping that the synagogue/rabbi will be willing to do this for a boy too. I haven't checked on our rabbi's policy, but I have read stories online that some rabbis are unwilling to do this without a bris.
It's entirely possible, and entirely within his right, not to want to do an official naming without a bris. If you want to do an alternative kind of ceremony, you might want to think about having something at your house so you can control the people who come and the kind of event you want to have. If you try and go through your synagogue, be prepared for some resistance and there is a REALLY strong adherance to circumcision since its biblically mandated. You're essentially directly going against the rules of your synagogue, so they may put up a fight. Again, I think the easiest way for you to do something like this is to do it on your own so you can design the ceremony around your own wishes.

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#10 of 19 Old 02-17-2010, 04:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kittywitty View Post
I broke away from my Jewish background over this choice. My son was circ'd and has pretty severe problems from it. After investigating, I could never belong to a synagogue where it was an issue. Of course we live 2+ hours from a synagogue anyway, so we aren't observant at all.

Are you Conservative? Reform synagogues take the issue much easier.
What is the Jewish stance on circs like your ds had where it has caused severe problems for him?

 
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#11 of 19 Old 02-17-2010, 06:21 PM
 
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What is the Jewish stance on circs like your ds had where it has caused severe problems for him?
Don't know. I wasn't really raised with a synagogue (we lived in a rural area hours from one). I was raised very liberally Jewish with a stepfather from an Orthodox family. I tried to join a Conservative synagogue a few years ago but all that was expressed to me was that circ'ing was an expectation. One that I would not fulfill if I had any more boys. It came up a lot about how important it was, but ultimately we moved and the synagogue was not a good fit, so I never asked how they'd handle it. I've never heard of a Jewish family being told not to circ another boy because a sibling had problems.

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#12 of 19 Old 02-18-2010, 12:21 PM
 
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Jewish law is very careful about health before circumcision...to the point that a jaundiced baby won't even be circumcised.
I do believe there are stipulations for hemophiliacs, etc.
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#13 of 19 Old 02-18-2010, 12:53 PM
 
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I am 25% Jewish and our 2 boys are intact. I feel so sad for what my great grandparents went through as immigrants to USA and how many children they lost, but I can't embrace their religion because circ goes against my strongly held belief in bodily integrity. Our boys will make a decision as adults for which faith they want to pursue, if any.

http://www.interfaithfamily.com/life...Covenant.shtml

If you look around, you can find an officiant for bris shalom.
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#14 of 19 Old 02-19-2010, 03:46 AM
 
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Don't know. I wasn't really raised with a synagogue (we lived in a rural area hours from one). I was raised very liberally Jewish with a stepfather from an Orthodox family. I tried to join a Conservative synagogue a few years ago but all that was expressed to me was that circ'ing was an expectation. One that I would not fulfill if I had any more boys. It came up a lot about how important it was, but ultimately we moved and the synagogue was not a good fit, so I never asked how they'd handle it. I've never heard of a Jewish family being told not to circ another boy because a sibling had problems.
I've never heard of that either. The only reason, through Jewish law, that a child wouldn't be circumsized is by a case by case health basis. It would have nothing to do with a siblings health problem, unless that health problem was genetic or indicative of a health problem in the other child.

I know of someone who had a botched bris by a mohel and had complications. His parents ended up taking him to a doctor to have the circumcision corrected and he hasn't had any further problems (he's an adult now).

As far as the "Jewish stance" on circs that end in severe problems, I'd say that Judaism holds health in a very high regard. Our bodies are not considered to be our own, they are on loan essentially from G-d, and we're commanded to take care of them. If something is ailing us, we need to do anything in our power to make it better. So I'd say the stance is to make sure the child recieves care to correct what happened.

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#15 of 19 Old 02-24-2010, 12:29 AM
 
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We are struggling with this right now, too. I am strongly leaning towards no bris for our son, but DH is another story.

DD 12/07 DS 9/10

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#16 of 19 Old 02-27-2010, 05:30 AM
 
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I'm sure my old posts are several pages back now, but I seriously considered converting to Judaism (twice) and had the same question. After a lot of soul searching, I came to the conclusion that I absolutely would have a bris milah for any sons if I made the decision to convert. As it is, my path in life right now is not Judaism, but who knows what the future holds? To me, faith is a serious thing and I would not commit to being a particular religion without following the rules as best as I could. You just have to ask yourself how important your religious and cultural heritage is to you. Obviously for some people who are Jewish, the mitzvah to circ is not one that they perform, and they continue on fine in life. For others, and arguably most, bris milah is both a religious and cultural ceremony too important to them to skip.

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#17 of 19 Old 02-27-2010, 08:10 AM
 
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I'm not Jewish but I wanted to suggest you google "bris shalom".

Peace,

Jen
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#18 of 19 Old 02-27-2010, 09:00 AM
 
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My husband was raised Orthodox Jewish, I was raised Christian. Neither of us practices now but we are raising our kids with a generalized kind of spirituality, and we celebrate holidays from both traditions.

We did not circ DS (or have a bris) and DH's family was very upset when we told them (they asked), which was during the pregnancy. They tried to convince us to do it, and it brought up a lot of stuff for DH, who told his father that he "might have wanted to keep that part," and that he didn't think it was necessary to cut off part of the penis to be a good person in the eyes of God. His dad said, "It's not part of the penis!" A lot of denial and hurt all around. But the family fallout really wasn't that bad, all told. There were a few sticky conversations, then the subject was closed, and it hasn't come up once since he was born.

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#19 of 19 Old 02-28-2010, 02:27 AM
 
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My parents were both deceased by the time we had the boys, and my Jewish stepmother was no longer in the picture, so for us there was really just one uncomfortable conversation, that with my in-laws. The funny thing was my MIL was far more worried about hygiene than us not performing the mitzvah. When I cleared up her misinformation about foreskins being "dirty", I got a shoulder shrug and that was that. I know there was talk behind our backs, probably lots among our more observant friends too, but we never got wind of it and so it didn't affect us. We didn't lose any friends or family over our decision not to have brises (I don't know what the correct plural of bris is either. For some reason I think it is brisim, but can't find any references).

I met all of my no-bris, Jewish friends when my first was a baby. We all were going to the same "crunchy" mama/baby groups, LLL, midwives, pre-schools, etc., and just sort of gravitated to one another. It was only after we were friends that we realized that we had intact boys in common too. If you haven't already, start looking for these kinds of groups in your area to find other like-minded, Jewish mamas.

Choosing not to have a bris for my first son was very difficult for me, huge really, and I think it is important for you to know that it did cause a schism between me and Judaism for a few years. It has only been within the last few years of working on being more observant, being mindful about keeping those mitzvahs that I can do, that I have started to feel (for lack of a better way to say it) Jewish again. Neither my husband nor I regret our decision to keep our boys intact, but I do understand that it can have spiritual consequences and so is not something to do lightly. Good luck to you and all the other mamas walking this path right now!

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