So far the CUT Tour has been an enormous success. In addition to the events, it generated some good articles in SF Weekly, Boulder Weekly, Boulder Jewish News, J Weekly, Jewish Journal of LA, and others. The 30-stop tour has brought together large audiences, ranging from 30 to 140. It has definitely been an amazing adventure, and many people (including parents, doctors, and students) have been moved by what they learned.
Here are a few highlights from the tour so far:
At the Boulder screening, the event took place at the Jewish Community Center. 140 people showed up; about 1/3 Jews, 2/3 non-Jews and many students. There was a great discussion following the film.
Annie Brook, Ph.D., a psychotherapist focusing on somatic memory and the prenatal period, spoke from the audience about how neuroscience was confirming what psychologists have known all along: cellular memory of trauma is significant and has long term repercussions.
A doctor from an audience was very moved by what she saw and said she no longer wanted to perform circumcisions. She also later requested some more DVDs to show to her colleagues.
The Washington DC screening had an excellent panel and there were many medical students in the audience.
At the Seattle screening, an expectant mom was in attending and was able to get accurate information on intact care and the dangers of forced retraction.
The interview with Rabbi Lopatin in Chicago was also very powerful. Though he won't come out against circumcision, he does believe that religious Jewish communities need to accept parents who choose to leave their sons intact (he made this statement during the Q&A.)
Here are some quotes that were made during the tour:
"It seems very silly that people who are not Jewish would engage in circumcisions. It makes no sense to me either. And neither does today from where I'm at, neither does a brit milah work for me. Because when I see the babies crying in your film, and I've spoken with neurosurgeons as well, and I know that babies undergo - that there's a lot of pain involved. Your conclusion was absolutely right. Our faith should be about healing and joy, not about inflicting more pain. And so from my perspective I'm very interested in performing brit shalom. You can do everything you do in that ceremony - except the violent part. Everything works. You can adapt a couple of brahot and it's beautiful. They can carry in the baby, although many Moms don't want to be separated from their babies, so let the Mom carry in the baby. That's the beauty of who we are today. We should be joyful and not hurt little babies... I too am rooted in tradition. I went to Yeshiva. I've davened with Lubbovovich. I've led services in the Conservative synagogues and in the Reform synagogues." - Rabbi Steven Blane NYC Q&A with Rabbi Steven Blane & Laurie Evans
"…the ritual and religious consequences of not being circumcised amount to nothing. There is absolutely nothing that an intact Jewish male today cannot do. Contrast this with - I'm talking from the Orthodox perspective - non-Sabbath observance. Jews who are not Sabbath observant are not trusted in Halachic courts of law, they cannot be witnesses at people's weddings, they cannot be trusted with issues of Kashrut, making sure that things are Kosher... Here's an issue that is very easy to solve. You don't even have to argue for the eradication of male circumcision in the Jewish tradition for everyone to be happy. All you have to do is say that this will be a decision that an individual makes at an age when they can make the decision.” - Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon NYC Q&A with Rabbi Steven Blane & Laurie Evans
“There are really no practical religious ritual consequences - and I’m speaking about this from an Orthodox perspective too - to not being circumcised… The only exclusion in Jewish law – even from an Orthodox perspective, for an intact Jewish male is the Pascal Lamb, the Korban Pesach (animal sacrifice) which hasn’t been brought in 2,000 years, and it won’t be brought again until the Temple’s rebuilt obstensively. If it’s even brought when the Temple’s rebuilt, if the Temple’s rebuilt.“ - Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon Washington DC Q&A with Ryan McAllister & Rabbi Binyamin Biber, Thursday, September 22, 2011
"My name is Binyamin Biber and I'm a Rabbi here in D.C. ... We do not engage in circumcision, so that we celebrate all babies being born, girls and boys and the ceremonies are the same for welcoming both girls and boys into a poetic kind of covenantal ideal of love and support. We're all born into the world vulnerable and in need of people who love us and take care of us… we depend upon each other for love and protection and that extends in this case I would say also to creating a covenant without circumcision…. There’s no official place in our movement’s philosophy for circumcision… the welcoming ceremony has no place for it… it’s really unimportant actually… most Jewish people who have any of covenant actually focus primarily on how we treat each other… we’re all in this together folks… we all have to live some kind of ideas… not sacrifices of children’s bits - I think that’s completely absurd at this time in history. I will say that I would not circumcise a child. … I think many Rabbis actually if they were going to be honest would say that circumcision is an unimportant part of Jewish life.” - Rabbi Binyamin Biber Washington DC Q&A with Ryan McAllister & Rabbi Binyamin Biber, Thursday, September 22, 2011
"We're seeing [circumcision's] decline, and we're seeing Rabbi's like me and others in other communities saying these practices are not warranted and we're seeing a generational shift away from them. One of the things that I think that's also critical is the growing popularity, and I think a rightful popularity of natural medicine and natural childbirth ideas. And I think that this is clearly seen as inconsistent - circumcision, male infant circumcision, female infant circumcision or genital mutilation - not consistent with natural childbirth, natural health. To the extent we see within nature patterns of evolved health and wellness. This is clearly not one of them. Inflicting a wound on an infant is clearly not one of those... If circumcision is ever wanted, it's not warranted at this point. “ - Rabbi Binyamin Biber Washington DC Q&A with Ryan McAllister & Rabbi Binyamin Biber, Thursday, September 22, 2011
If you're interested in hearing the Q&A discussion from each screening, you can find them all here at the Cut Podcast. A HUGE thanks to Eli for putting all of these podcasts together and making them available for FREE!
As costs for the tour have been kept as low as possible, unfortunately there were more costs than anticipated. We had a final fundraising push, and thanks to a very generous donation from Stephen Crozier- we were able to reach our goal! Thank you so much, Stephen, and all the others who have donated to make this tour possible.