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The San Francisco bris ban

In San Francisco the Anti-Semites are at work.  They have collected enough signatures to place an anti-circumcision initiative on the fall ballot in San Francisco county. It would be a crime to perform a circumcision on a minor child. This would involve jail time and a minimum $1000 fine.

The group that is sponsoring this ballot initiative likens male circumcision to female circumcision. But they are not the same at all. Further this ballot initiative is an attack on Jewish ritual practice.  One only has to look at the political campaign material that has been produced featuring the Aryan blond looking superhero and the sinsiter Jewish looking Mohel or ritual circumcisor.  Every caricature of Jews is present in the graphic cartoons produced by those who support the measure.

Jews have practiced this ancient ritual not for health reasons but for ritual and spiritual reasons. We dedicate our son’s as did Abraham, the founder of Judaism to the covenantal promise we have with God.  We read about it first in Genesis 17:10 and then later on in Leviticus.  This ceremony is performed on the eighth day of life.  It just so happens that many of the brain synapses that send pain messages are not in full force yet in an infant.  Further study after study shows that HIV/AIDS is not transferred in heterosexual relationships at such a high rate when the male is circumcised. Also the risk of ovarian cancer is reduced in women whose male partners are cicumcised.

I hope you San Francisco voters will see this measure for what it is: a violation of the first amendment of the Constitution to the full practice of religion.  And it is an affront to Jews and to Muslims who practice this ancient rite as well.

In a city known for its openness, known for it freedom, it seems sadly ironic that this is what they wish to control.   But then again, from a Jewish perspective one of the reasons we circumcise and dedicate the penis to God’s covenant is in order to sanctify the procreative organ and to make the sex act for men a holy act, rather than a wanton lust -filled unspiritual experience.

I hope all who vote there, in the City by the Bay will vote against this measure.

6 thoughts on “The San Francisco bris ban”

    1. Glad to contribute a Jewish intactivist perspective to the conversation!

      Throughout Europe, the former Soviet Union, and South America, many Jews either never circumcised, or quietly stopped circumcising, believing it to be a violent pre-modern custom with obvious ethical problems. In America, some Jews don’t circumcise. But there is a movement of Jews who are replacing circumcision with a peaceful religious ritual that welcomes the child without violating their body. It is gaining recognition because of wonderful bloggers like you! Judaism is an evolving religion, one that is focused on human ethics.

      Here is even more information about Jews who are rejecting circumcision!

      A Jewish Intactivist Parenting Blog

      Jews Against Circumcision

      Kahal – Israeli Jewish Intactivists

      My Son, the Little Jew with a Foreskin by Stacey Greenberg

  1. Dear Rabbi
    It is most unjust to condemn all 12,000 people who have signed the petition to put an age-restriction on male genital cutting onto a ballot as “anti-Semites”. Perhaps three people in San Diego were responsible for the comic strip you refer to (which would have stayed obscure were it not for the outcry), and the San Francisco ballot-proposers have disavowed them.

    97% of infant circumcision is goyish. The issue is the human right to autonomy over one’s own body, something San Franciscans cherish. Circumcision is unique in removing a normal, healthy, non-regrowing, functional body part for life. It violates his First Amendment right to the full practice of the religion of his choice as an adult, without having had one not of his choice pre-emptively cut into his body.

    The same verses that prescribe circumcison for sons, prescribe it also for slaves. Circumcision and slaveholding were once not considered human rights issues, but times have changed. Women can be rabbis.

    It is not true that babies feel less pain. See

    Male and female genital cutting have much in common, especially ethically. In the 1960s in the USA, girls were cut with this device ( NSFW) which had a shield to spare the clitoris. Now it is illegal, and I think you will agree, rightly so.

    1. Hugh is right.

      There is a movement of Jews who are questioning circumcision, and working to end this abuse of children. The movement ranges from the Orthodox to the secular, and includes mothers, fathers, scholars, historians, medical professionals, activists, and intellectuals.

      Jews for Genital Integrity

      * Brit Shalom Celebrants by Mark D. Reiss, M.D.

      * The Current Judaic Movement to End Circumcision: Part 1

      The Kindest Un-Cut Feminism, Judaism, and My Son’s Foreskin by Professor Michael S. Kimmel

      Jewish Intactivist Miriam Pollack has some great commentary on Foreskin Man in this recent interview.

      Jews Speak Out in Favor of Banning Circumcision on Minors

      1. Sorry -don’t agree with you. It is not an abuse. It is an ancient and hallowed way to enter our sons into the covenant of the Jewish people. If you don’t want to circumcise your son-then don’t. But don’t try to impose your views on me and my exercise of my parental and religious rights.

  2. ………… Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision – A Film by Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon
    Jews for the Rights of the Child
    Circumcision and the Brain
    Alternative Jewish Rituals
    Israeli Linguist Vadim Cherny: How Judaic is the Circumcision?

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