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The Battle of the Bris

The Battle of the Bris

When parents disagree about circumcision.


August 25, 2007

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 20

(20) Channa, November 28, 2007 2:14 PM

If the mother is not the custodial parent then it makes one wonder whether this discussion is actually about the child's needs and desires or does this have more to do with the unfinished business of these parents? The mother's comments notwithstanding, there is likely a social-worker and/ or a rabbi involved. Is he/she evolved and sensitive to the child's needs and perspectives? If so, why is the court giving the mother's concerns weight? AS for the child's opinion,no doubt that the child is frightened by the procedure, but does that mean that all bets are off? Is he intelligent enough to weigh the pros and cons of circumscion? Religious committments aside, are we talking about an actual physical operation or are we talking about the ritual ( such as piercing the skin with a pin prick) which can result in mostly a ceremonial procedure? For a valid opinion the child's Jewish upbringing has to come into play, so do the supports that do or do exist to either reinforce or shun the decision. Does he go to shul, is a Bar Mitzvah on the horizon? Does the child have Jewish social contact. Finally can this be a defiant act of aggression ( and not religious committment ) on the father's part? To sum up, we the reader's have not been armed with enough information to form an informed opinion; hopefully the court will do a better job.

(19) Abraham Golos, September 2, 2007 10:21 AM

Oregon case as basis for discussion

I am the lay "spiritual leader" of a 100 member "traditional" leaning congregation in upstate New York. I saw an article about this in the Forward, decided it's worth discussing, and have announce it as the topic for our first havdalah discussion which will also be Selichot.
I was gratified to see that you also found it interesting. (I happen to be an attorney also, so I have a double perspective, although you obviously do also). I plan to take the opportunity to first discuss circumcision historically, biblically, and medically, before raising the Oregon case. Then, as the discussion proceeds, I intend to change the facts: What if the boy were only 3? What if both parents were Christian but the boy, @ 12, wanted to be circumcized? What if the parents were both Jewish but, because of the unavailable of Mohel, a mixup of babies at the hospital, a tyrannical anti-semitic government, a kidnapping, their son didn't have a Brit Me'lah and now, at age 12, he is recovered and the parents want to have the Brit--and the boy doesn't!!?? I hope the anticipated group of 30 will find it as interesting as I have. Thank you for your presentation.

(18) Anonymous, September 2, 2007 1:14 AM


It it a requirement that to be a Jew, one MUST have circumsion? I belong to a Jewish Senior Center and met many Jews who were allowed to leave the USSR who were raised in the Stalin era where practice of one's religeon was forbidden..As many are in thier senior years, many stated that they don't want to go thru this pain, and are foregoing it... I was taught as a youth that this is a covenant with G-D made with our Father Abraham.. I would appreciate your response to this query!

(17) Anonymous, September 1, 2007 9:16 PM

US vs. Jewish Law

The fact that the father has total custody is a matter of secular law, not religious. Therefore, secular law should govern in this instance. If the child were 12, had no Jewish parents and wanted to be circumcised, the courts would not allow him to make a decision like this until he was close to 18. I think the decision should be put off until the child reaches the age of majority in the civil courts.

(16) Chaim Lobel, August 30, 2007 9:40 AM

It is the Father's decision now

The father should ask Mesha then decide. At 13 Mesha has the right to reject and live his life as he pleases.

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