Conclusion Challenges to the Circumcision of Jewish Men

Shaye J. D. Cohen

in Why Aren't Jewish Women Circumcised?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9780520212503
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520920491 | DOI:
Conclusion Challenges to the Circumcision of Jewish Men

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This chapter discusses the challenges to the circumcision of Jewish men in the nineteenth, twentieth, and early twenty-first centuries. In the twenty-first century, many contemporary Jews are disturbed by the lack of parity in the treatment Jewish newborns. For them, the absence of any ceremony or ritual marking the birth of a baby girl, the absence of anything equivalent to the berit for boys, is a major problem and a major challenge. However, the war over circumcision was part of the larger war between Reform and Orthodox. There was great variety of opinion within each of those camps, with divisions between radical and moderate Reform, and between radical and moderate Orthodox. The Reformers argue that circumcision cannot be the portal into Jewishness because, if so, how do women become Jews? The non-circumcision of women proves that the circumcision of men cannot have a sacramental function. Furthermore, there is a small but vocal anticircumcision movement in the United States and other western countries, the goal of which is to prohibit all circumcisions except those necessary on medical grounds.

Keywords: contemporary Jews; berit; Reformer; Orthodox; anticircumcision

Chapter.  7031 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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