The following is a response I wrote to the Staten Island Advance article entitled " Is circumcision an expression of religious faith - or mutilation of children?"
I was quite taken aback to see the article condemning circumcision by anti-circumcision activist Ronald Goldman that appeared on Sept 9. The article was filled with half truths and distortions as well as outright falsehood.
Circumcision on the eighth day in Judaism is mandated by the Torah as an outward sign of the covenant between G-d and the descendents of Abraham. It is a religious ritual that has been practiced for close to four thousand years. In all of the many generations the negative effects of circumcision Dr. Goldman mentions have not been observed. If what Dr. Goldman claims was true, groups where circumcision is prevalent would have elevated rates of "disrupted bonding between parent and child, sexual anxieties , reduced emotional expression, low self esteem, avoidance of intimacy and depression" as well as the various other ills that Goldman cites, in comparison with groups that do not practice circumcision. This has not been observed.
I have been present at many circumcision ceremonies and have found them to be beautiful and deeply emotional experiences expressing the continuation of our ancient covenant with God to yet another generation. Having myself been what Dr. Goldman what deem a "victim" of circumcision I can testify that I live a reasonably contented and successful life despite all the supposed dire consequences he predicts. In addition I am both proud and honored to continue the traditions of our ancestor Abraham and our Jewish faith. The covenant with God symbolized by circumcision is one of the most sacred practices of Judaism and any attempts to defame or infringe upon it must be viewed with the utmost seriousness.
My interest is in circumcision as a religious ritual. I leave medical judgements to the medical profession. In that context it is worth noting that the American Academy of
Pediatrics has recommended circumcision of male infants on medical grounds.
Rabbi Gerald Sussman
is a conservative pulpit Rabbi in Staten Island, New York.