Very interesting read: from perspective of a circumcised Jewish young adult male.
Excerpts: please click the above link for full article.
By AL RUBENSTEIN
I am 21 years old, Jewish, and opposed to circumcision. I attend college in Indiana. I grew up in a small Southern town where my family was one of a handful of Jews. My parents were born and raised Jewish. I was circumcised when I was eight days old by a mohel at a brit milah.
My Jewish identity was always very important to me growing up. I went to synagogue a lot, spent my summers at a Jewish summer camp, had a bar mitzvah, and in high school was part of NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth). I went to Israel for a semester in high school. When I was a child and teenager, I was always proud to be Jewish, to be a part of G-d’s chosen people, to be in a culture that valued life and not death. I’m also a person who finds the idea of permanent body modification disturbing. I feel G-d made us the way we are for a reason. Every organ has a purpose. Even our imperfections are a sign of our individuality. When I found out I was circumcised, I was horrified.
It was difficult to talk to anyone about my feelings. When I did, I never got the support I was looking for. I had spoken to my parents about my own circumcision when I was 16. They didn’t take me seriously. My mom talked only of how difficult it was to get a mohel for me in our location. My dad laughed at my feebly spoken facts. In the end, they told me not to worry about it because it would be a long time before I had children. I felt defeated by that conversation. They made me feel I was wrong—that what I’d learned about circumcision and about the purpose and function of foreskin wasn’t true.
All I wanted from my parents was for them to say it was okay. That perhaps I had a point. I understood why my parents did this to me. I just needed some support. The conversation I had with my parents made everything worse. I still felt in my heart that what had been done to me was wrong, and that circumcision was a terrible thing, but I also felt I needed to accept the fact that I was circumcised and that one day, when I had sons, they would be too.
I finally broke out of the trap last summer when I realized two things. First, that people won’t care whether or not I circumcise my sons! Second, that it’s possible to undo some of the damage done by circumcision through a process called foreskin restoration.
No matter what, I can’t cut my kids. I will never know the advantages of being intact—how much difference this really makes—but I do know skinning a baby’s penis is wrong. I will give my sons the choice I never had. My boys will feel proud of what they are—Jewish and intact!
I also realized I had to do something about my penis. In the end, this is a very personal issue for me and waiting to make my stand when I have my first son isn’t enough. A lot of my feelings about circumcision come from feeling mutilated and less than human as a consequence of this procedure. So, I began restoring. Through consistent stretching of the remaining skin on the shaft of the penis, it’s possible over time to regain some of what I’ve lost. It can’t bring back everything—it cannot regrow nerves—but it does give me control over the issue. It’s making it so that when I look down there, I’m not focusing on what I’ve lost, but instead I’m fascinated by what I am gaining. It has allowed me to move on with my life, taking comfort in my own restoration.
Here are a few thoughts for dads and moms about talking to their circumcised sons. If your son ever comes and tells you he is angry or depressed because he was circumcised, be there for him. I think having someone to talk to, and who understands, would make all the difference in the world. Tell him about foreskin restoration and if he decides to do it, you support him. Even if he is worrying about having to circumcise kids he won’t have for another twenty years, these issues are very real to him, don’t dismiss them. Make sure he knows that if his circumcision is ever bothering him, he come to you and talk about it. I don’t feel like I got this support from my parents, but I hope you can give it to your son, if he goes through what I went through.
Future parents—if you aren’t sure about cutting your kids, please consider my experience. You don’t have to do it. I am not saying your child will feel like I do, but he might. I promise you he will be happy if you leave him be. He will be able to live life to its fullest because he will have every part he had coming out of the womb. He only gets one life on this planet. Give him the chance to experience it the way he is meant to.
A Comment on that article
And an intact Jewish male can always opt for brit milah at any time in later life. To choose milah for oneself after 21 years of age, believing that it is a mitzvah, and out of loyalty to the Jewish people and to millenia of Jewish tradition, carries a great deal of existential meaning. To cut a screaming newborn boy who cannot comprehend at all what he is experiencing, carries no meaning except cruelty to an infant.
Intactivism is NOT about abolishing Jewish circumcision. It is NOT about “forcing” spouses to experience marital intimacy with an unkosher penis. It is ONLY about delaying brit milah until it becomes an informed adult choice. Here’s hoping that Reform and Conservatice synagogues will accept without reservation congregants who had chosen to remain intact.