A Father and Son Dialogue / Intactivism / Circumcision in Israel

A bit of humor, courtesy of my husband, Jacob:

Father:
“Son, what do you think about being circumcised?”

Son:

Father:
“OK, we won’t do it to you.”

Son:

Thank you for your wonderful and supportive congratulatory messages!

I have received so many fabulous congratulatory notes and emails on the announcement of Gabriel’s birth. I had debated whether or not to make a public announcement of our decision to leave our son intact, and am so glad I did.   The response has been fabulous.  I’d like to share some excerpts of just a few of the many wonderful emails I received following that announcement:

“As the mother of two intact Jewish boys who also blazed a trail in their family, I applaud you for that…”

“I let my son be circumcised 40 years ago but wouldn’t do that today. My daughter and husband listened to the new evidence and their boys are intact.”

“…As a Jewish mother who also did not circumcise her son, I am thrilled for you and your precious angel, that he, indeed, your whole family, remains intact, un-traumatized and whole.”

“A big thank you for letting us know that Gabriel will remain intact, it really helps others who are in a similar situation to know they are not alone. I am supporting a Jewish couple birthing in a few weeks time who are very conflicted on this and at the moment they are planning to circumcise due to the pressure from family, even though they are not entirely happy with their decision. I will let them know about you!”

“And I have to tell you how happy it makes me to hear about yet another Jewish non-circumcising family. What a blessing for your little one.”

“I am so happy about your decision to keep your boy intact.  You guys have guts (and lots of smarts too, obviously).”

“I remember the conversation with my dad when I decided our son would remain “intact.”  It was wonderful and supportive.  I do recall one funny thing he said, “Just don’t tell your mother.”  Ha! As though she wouldn’t notice…”

“..kudos on the natural and honoring birth Raquel… and the decision to let the little guy remain as God designed him.  We know that can bring up a lot of issues with family.”

Actually, my family has been supportive of our decision to leave Gabriel intact.  My mother and stepfather participated in our Intact Boy series; Gillian Longley’s two lectures were enough to make them seriously think about circumcision for the first time.  By the end of Gillian’s first lecture, The Foreskin, their attitude of “circumcision is really no big deal” turned to “Harvey wants his [foreskin] back!” (which came through in the Q&A box, making a few of us chuckle).

Circumcision in Israel – Impressions

After attending The Intact Boy series, my mom has become more vocal herself about this issue! She was in Israel at the time of Gabriel’s birth, and after proudly announcing that she is a grandmother (again), people would ask if she was going back home early for the bris.  Although my mother spared my 95 year-old great aunt the news, she was quite open with others.

Her cousin’s response: “Lots of people here aren’t doing that anymore.”

A few months ago I met a delightful Israeli woman at the local public library, who told me that she and most of her friends back home in Israel did not circumcise their sons.  When I mentioned this to my mother, she informed me that for a few years now, she has received birth announcements from Israeli friends who – instead of announcing the day and time of the bris for all to come witness and “celebrate” – made a notation on the birth announcement that the bris will be “among the family members only”.

Did they actually perform the bris?  Who knows?  But the privacy announcement is encouraging.  The Israeli departure from the public exhibition of the Brit Milah is an important first step in the abandonment of this outdated and barbaric tradition.

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Comments

  1. Gloria Lemay says:

    “Guts and smarts”, that’s a pretty good description of Raquel & Jacob.

    The fact that already other baby boys are being spared the scalpel because of your stance is so inspiring. I think that VBAC and intactivism are alike in that regard. Each time someone finds the courage to think for themselves, it creates a ripple of strength for others to follow.

    Many pioneers came before you in both these areas, Raquel, and now you will be the inspiration for many, many more. That’s the way we build a better world.

  2. Kathleen Legler says:

    I wish that I could adequately express to you how deeply greatful I am that you have published this incredible story. I wish that I could find words that are eloquent enough to say thank you. I wish that I could touch the lives of so many people in the manner that you have. I wish for all of Jacob’s Jewish brothers, all that you have given to him with this amazing decision. You are what a hero looks like to me. Thank you.

  3. mom says:

    we love you and support your decisions

  4. Robert says:

    Kudos to you for throwing off the shackles of tradition and allowing your son(s) his(their) birthright(s) to a whole body.
    A dear friend of mine was wise enough to leave his two sons intact and, like you, has a right to be proud of his decision for following in the Jewish tradition of thought, the golden rule, and questioning dogma.

  5. Rachel Israel says:

    Good for you! I struggled with my third son after learning the facts about circumcision. Being Jewish and having two sons that were circumcised, it didn’t take me long to realize there is NO good enough reason to cut a very important part of our son’s body off. Our third and fourth sons are intact and I am so thankful. And so grateful that you have made this decision and are sharing it with so many. There are many in the Jewish community that view this as a rebellion against G-d…its not…G-d demanded we question and learn and debate…and in the light of facts and evidence take a stand for the weakest members of the human race (babies). Congratulations on your birth.

  6. Kathleen Legler says:

    I apologize for the error in names, what I meant to say was:
    “I wish for all of ‘Gabriel’s’ Jewish brothers…..”

    regards,
    kathleen

  7. Ron Low says:

    Did not “Thou Shall Not Steal (healthy normal body parts from people who can’t give consent)” come AFTER the covenant of the 8th day? May G-d forgive those who weren’t paying attention when forced amputation was repealed.

  8. Melanie says:

    It was refreshing to read this story. What a lucky little boy. I’m glad to see leaving little boys as they are born is catching on.

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