"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.
“There are tens of thousands of intact Jewish boys and men around the world who thank their lucky stars they were not circumcised.”
- Brian Levitt, Intactivist and co-founder of Jews for the Rights of the Child.
“Although uncircumcised, I am a very proud Jew, with a very strong sense of Jewish identity, and never hesitate to affirm my Jewish identity, to Jew and non-Jew alike, but particularly to myself. I can assure you that having a foreskin has not made me less of a Jew than those without one…”
- Alan Altmann, Circumcision Questions, California Jewish Bulletin.
"It's not a parental choice. There's an ethical problem with making this a parental choice, namely that you're not taking into account the wishes upon whom the surgery is being performed."
- Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, Georgetown University, September 22, 2011, Washington DC Q&A with Ryan McAllister & Rabbi Binyamin Biber Podcast.
“In any other arena of medical or religious practice, such an activity as the willful removal of healthy, God-given, purposefully functioning tissue (without sufficient mitigation of the pain that it causes) from a fully conscious infant, would be immediately recognized, in both Jewish and American law, as the trespass it is.
Or, to put it another way: It's a mitzvah to fight to end circumcision!”
- Samuel Richmond, a Jewish Intactivist in southern California, The Case for Brit Without Milah.
"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 [in Judaism] 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, Q&A with Rabbi Steven Blane & Laurie Evans.
"The issue of circumcision, in my view, is whether we want submission and wounding, as a symbolic act, to mark a man's relationship to God and to the community in general. I no longer believe such a wounding is defensible."
"There is more emotion about eliminating circumcision than perhaps any other traditional practice. But it is time to find a different symbol of a boy's entrance into the community. Instead of cutting our sons, we might celebrate their masculinity. A more appropriate symbol would be a nurturing act, one that would affirm a boy's relationship to a loving father, both his own and that of his God. We might, for example, feed our sons, since a meal is also a traditional symbol of covenant. Indeed, in one text, Moses and Aaron and the elders go up to the top of the mountain, and when they see God, they eat and drink. Feeding our sons, rather than wounding them, would be a symbol of our nurturing relationship to them."
- Rabbi and Professor Howard Eilberg-Schwartz, A Masculine Critique of a Father God, Tikkun Magazine.
"The code of the Jewish law is called "halacha" (the way). Within the Code, there is a provision that if a mother loses a son because of circumcision, she is NOT obligated to circumcise her next son. I extrapolate from this, the inter-connection of my human family, that enough deaths and maiming have occurred because of circumcision. Therefore - circumcision is no longer a requisite! Just as we no longer practice the animal sacrifices in the traditional temple, so let us not sacrifice an important piece of our mammal in the temple of tradition."
- Rabbi Nathan Segal, One Rabbis' Thoughts on Circumcision.
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, Q&A with Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon with Ryan McAllister & Rabbi Binyamin Biber.
“Mutilation of the divinely made human body is as far from Judaism as anything could be… Torah mentions circumcision only cursorily. Circumcision is conspicuously absent from the Sinai commandments, and from the subsequent listings of rules… Deut30:6 mentions circumcision metaphorically at most, “circumcise your heart.” No less likely is the meaning, “tame your pride.”
- Israeli Linguist Vadim Cherny, How Judaic is the circumcision?
“Judaism has always been a core piece of my identity, even though my practice and understanding have evolved over the years. I have great reverence for what we hold as spiritual. When the authorities of my tradition define the sacred in a way that violates the most elemental and life-giving forces, mothers and babies, then something is very wrong. That which is not ethical, cannot be spiritual. That is a basic Jewish tenet… It is Judaism that has taught me that reverence for life, the principle of pikuah nefesh, and the mandate incumbant upon all of us to distinguish (l’havdeel) between what is holy and what is profane. It is precisely these fundamental tenets of Judaism that have led me to conclude that circumcision is not holy in terms of Jewish ethics.… What is most satisfying to me is knowing that I have helped a number of parents, particularly Jewish parents, come to the conclusion that they can be good Jews and leave their baby intact.”
- Miriam Pollack, Defying Convention: An Interview With Miriam Pollack, Beyond the Bris.
"…As a progressive Reform Jew I was raised to believe that any conflict between human rights and Jewish law and/or tradition, is always resolved in favor of human rights, and that this does not diminish Judaism, but in fact makes it stronger… So when does circumcision become a bad idea? If a single child suffers from it directly, or indirectly from complications, or ... a single child should die (which is not common but does happen) isn't that enough warrant a re-evaluation? ... I believe it is time for the Reform movement to consider how contemporary medical and ethical studies on circumcision put the practice at odds with its cherished values of human rights and social justice -- values which, in my opinion, are truly what defines and are central to Judaism."
- Thomas Wolfe, Why do we need an alternative Brit Milah (Bris) ceremony?
“It seems to me that for liberal Jews the choice comes down to this. Do we want to in some way circumscribe the sexual possibilities of our sons by performing a body modification when they are infants so as to bear witness to the covenant? Are there not other ways to bear witness? Are there not other ways to maintain our distinctiveness from the society around us? Despite having circumcised my two sons, the more I think about the issue, the more likely – were I a resident of San Francisco – I would support the referendum.”
- Sandford Borins, Ph.D., The Circumcision Referendum: A Liberal Jewish Perspective.Sandford Borins, Ph.D., is a professor of Management at the University of Toronto.
“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.
“All attempts to justify a custom such as this by means of one or another symbolic explanation collapse in the presence of the baby, in agony under the mohel’s knife.… there is enough of worth in Judaism to guarantee its survival, even after it rids itself of this disturbing custom. It may even be strengthened this way.”
- Israeli Professor Hanoch Ben-Yami, Letters, Azure, Summer 5767 / 2007.
“More and more Jews are choosing to not circumcise their boys.. (Thank God!) And just as we accept Jews who do not keep kosher or observe as we do, we recognize the amazing diversity of practice and belief that is part and parcel of our astounding heritage.
Genital cutting does not create a 'mensch' (a conscious-caring individual). Indeed it is more of an obstacle to our natural development and [a] source of anger and confusion. Coming from an Orthodox background and having lived in Jerusalem, i am very aware that the problems of domestic violence and sexual pathology are just as prevalent in the observant communities as in the secular. Deuteronomy 10:16 says: "Circumcise the foreskin of your heart..." In Hebrew, the word foreskin is 'orlah'... there is an 'orlah' covering the ear and the heart... What is preventing us from 'hearing the word of God and opening our hearts in love and compassion.. This is the real circumcision that needs to occur. and it is a life-time learning ceremony…. 'Brit Milah' is the hebrew for the covenant of 'circumcision'. 'Mila' also means 'word'.. We can welcome the child with songs and praises and holy words, gentle tones, and soft touches and smiles.”
- Rabbi Nathan Segal, One Rabbis' Thoughts on Circumcision.
“So it’s quite obvious that to question any aspect of Judaism, including circumcision is not anti-Semitic. It is very much in keeping with Judaism’s rich tradition of discussion and debate…So what if parents don’t want the milah, but still want the brit? Several different alternative rituals have been created by parents and rabbis of all branches of Judaism. They’re typically called a Brit Shalom, so rather than covenant of cutting, it’s a covenant of peace. They tend to involve all the traditional aspects of a traditional bris, including all the same participants and blessings, just without the actual circumcision. Some will simply use the same naming ceremony used for girls. It’s not particularly common, but it is being used more often now than in the past. Support groups exist for parents of intact Jewish boys. Cars now bear bumper stickers which read, “Jews embracing wholeness. Saying no to circumcision”. Even in Israel, there are Jewish organizations that oppose brit milah. One non-profit organization in Israel working to stop circumcision took its case to the High Court of Justice in 1998 and maintained in its petition that “in a modern democratic society there is no place for the ‘barbaric’ ceremony which mauls a child who does not have any say in the matter." The movement is largely made up of Reform parents, but it is visible in other areas as well. Moshe Rothenberg is a Conservative Jew living in an observant Jewish community in Brooklyn, yet he did not circumcise his son. (Rothenberg). The Af-milah newsletter is an Israeli newsletter dedicated to ending brit milah. Those who question and refuse to have a brit milah aren’t necessarily doing it because they have assimilated or because they’re anti-Semitic. Some feel this way after careful study of Jewish texts and observances.”
- D.A. Huffman-Parent, Brit Milah : Inconsistent with Jewish Ethics?
“I’d heard how my uncle had fainted during my bris and what a horrible event it was. This was the thing everyone would talk about at the Passover seder… The ban on circumcision that’s on the ballot in San Francisco is a triumph for intactivists… I'm totally for it. San Francisco has often lead the country in elevating our consciousness. It has already helped spread awareness of this human rights crime to other states and hopefully will lead people everywhere to be more compassionate, thoughtful and rational not only towards their own fragile newborn children but to other fellow men and women as well.”
- Jason Paige, Jewish Singer, Blood, Sweat & Tears Lead Singer Protests Infant Circumcision.
Some American Rabbis Explain their Opposition to Circumcision.
Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon with Ryan McAllister & Rabbi Binyamin Biber *
Rabbi Jeffrey Falick: Eliminating The Cruelest Cut * A humanistic Rabbi on Intactivism.
Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon with Rabbi Steven Blane & Laurie Evans *
Rabbi Nathan Segal Calls for an End to Circumcision * A Progressive Rabbi urges us to move to peaceful covenants.
Rabbi Jeffrey Falick: A Resource Guide To The "Intactivist" (No Circumcision) Movement *
Jewish Intactivist Media.
BeyondtheBris.com * A Jewish Intactivist parenting blog.
Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision * A Film by Orthodox Intactivist, Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon
QUESTIONING CIRCUMCISION: A Jewish Perspective by Ronald Goldman, Ph.D. *
Worldwide list of Rabbis who lead covenant without cutting ceremonies *
Jewish Intactivist Groups.
Jews Against Circumcision * Jews For the Rights of the Child * Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective by Ron Goldman, PhD. * Gonnen * Kahal * Af-Mila: An Israeli Jewish Intactivist Journal *
The Israeli Association Against Genital Mutilation *
Jewish Peaceful Covenant Texts for New Parents.
Worldwide list of Rabbis who lead covenant without cutting ceremonies *
Brit B'lee Milah (Covenant Without Cutting) Ceremony *
A Brit Shalom Ceremony *
Norm Cohen: A Brit B’lee Milah Ceremony *
Song for an Intact Jewish Boy’s Welcoming Ceremony *
Progressive Jews Acknowledge the Moral Problems of Circumcision.
Eli Ungar-Sargon Outlawing Circumcision Good for the Jews? * Published in the Jewish Daily Forward.
Circumcision Questions (letter from an intact Jew). * Published in the Northern California Jewish Bulletin.
Hebrew Scholar Vadim Cherny: How Judaic is circumcision? * It’s not at all, he finds.
Eli Ungar-Sargon & Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on the Ethical Problems of Circumcision * At the Manhattan Jewish Experience.
Jenny Goodman, MD: An Alternative Perspective * A Jewish doctor in the UK urges us to keep our sons intact.
A Progressive Case for Bris without Milah. *
Miriam Pollack: Circumcision : A Jewish Feminist Perspective * Published in Jewish Women Speak Out.
Brit Milah: Inconsistent with Jewish Ethics? * Written by a Jewish parent.
The Measure of His Grief by Lisa Braver Moss * A new book exploring Jewish intactivism.
Miriam Pollack, Intactivist of the Month *
Lisa Braver Moss: Evolving Jewish Practices * Published on Beyond the Bris.
Moshe Rothenberg: Being Rational About Circumcision and Jewish Observance *
Lisa Braver Moss: The Jewish Roots of Anti-Circumcision Arguments *
Defying Convention: An Interview With Miriam Pollack * Published on Beyond the Bris.
Profile of Orthodox Intactivist Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon *
Judaism, the Foreskin and Human Rights Law.
Jewish Parents, the Foreskin, and Human Rights * Part 1.
Jewish Parents, the Foreskin, and Human Rights * Part 2.
Jewish Parents, the Foreskin, and Human Rights * Part 3.
Leaders in the Jewish Movement Against Circumcision.
Jewish Rationales for Abolishing Circumcision * from Jews Against Circumcision.
Jewish mom: Circumcision spiritually wounds * From a lecture by Miriam Pollack.
Jewish Scholar and Intactivist, Leonard Glick, MD, PhD. * A Jewish history of circumcision.
Shea Levy: To the Mohel Who Cut Me * Published on Beyond the Bris.
Progressive, Moral Jews speak out in Favor of Banning Circumcision on Minors. * Intactivism and Human Rights.
The History of Circumcision: Leonard Glick , MD, PhD. explains how he came to write Marked In Your Flesh. *
Jonathan Friedman: On Circumcision Authority, and the Perpetuation of Abuse * Published on Beyond the Bris.
Women’s Perspectives * Published on Dr. Ron Goldman’s site.
American Jews Speak Out in Favor of Banning Circumcision on Minors *
International Jews Also Favor Outlawing Circumcision of Minors *
Judaism, Human Rights and the History of Circumcision *
The Intactivist Movement Within Judaism. * Published on Saving Sons.
Howard Stern: Jewish Intactivist * Published on Beyond the Bris.
Read Jewish Parents' Experiences Keeping their Sons Intact.
Dear Elijah: A Conservative Jewish Father's Letter to His Intact Son * Published on Peaceful Parenting.
Moshe Rothenberg: Ending Circumcision in the Jewish Community? * Envisioning an Intactivist Judaism.
The Naming * Published on Very, Very Fine.
Michael Kimmel: The Kindest Un-Cut: Feminism, Judaism, and My Son's Foreskin * Published in Tikkun.
Circumcision: Identity, Gender, and Power by Miriam Pollack * Originally published in Tikkun.
Sarah Rockwell: Lucking Into Bris Shalom * Published on Beyond the Bris.
Stacey Greenberg: My Son: The Little Jew with a Foreskin * Published in Mothering Magazine.
Laura Shanley: A Jewish Woman Denounces Circumcision * A Childbirth educator chooses intact.
Intact & Jewish * Published on the Natural Parents Network.
Diane Targovnik: How "Cut" Saved My Son's Foreskin : A Movie Review * Published on Beyond the Bris.
Today’s Jews Reject Circumcision and Choose Peaceful Welcoming Covenants * An Intactivist Midwife.