I finally had 2 seconds to speak with the Rabbi last night after our first adult education class and I was less than pleased about the outcome. In fact, I cried the moment he turned away and continued all the way home.
My consolation comments to myself: He's just a man. And he's wrong.
The situation: Clients who are Jewish or who want to be Jewish, yet won't circumcise their boys on ethical reasons and how they cannot find Temples to join or even feel welcomed at. (dangling preposisition, I know) So, this new Rabbi, so progressive! so wonderful about how so many laws are outdated and should have been tossed out long ago! I thought, for sure, he would be on my side on this issue. I was more sadly mistaken than I could have imagined.
His arguments: It is the most important covenant with God along with Shabbat in the home. It doesn't hurt the baby. There are no dangers in it. Moms don't have to watch. It's worse in the thinking about it than in the doing it. Babies cry when their blankets are removed... the same as crying with circumcision. The babies that continue crying are rare and probably have colic or something. It isn't the same as female circumcision. Why would someone let the child make the decision since parents sometimes have to make the decisions like not touching a hot stove?
My retorts: Just because a culture accepts something doesn't mean it is morally correct... as in the case of female circumcision. If moms don't want to watch, why make the baby go through it themselves? Babies cry much more with circumcision than with jostling of blankets. Babies that keep crying hurt; they are not colicky. Body modification is a whole 'nother animal than a hot stove. Babies penises have been cut off by the process... and there is infection.
I couldn't believe how sad I was talking about this with him. I had to shove my tears back (why?) during the whole talk.
When I spoke about penises falling off he made comments about not finding butchers to do the ceremony and then proceeded to tell me about a mohel here in San Diego that was so bad the Rabbis gathered together and ordered him to stop or they were taking him to court. I was so stunned I couldn't eek out the WHAT ABOUT THOSE POOR BABIES HE MUTILATED BEFORE YOU TOLD HIM TO STOP?!?! And he spoke about butchers more than once. I look forward to speaking up in the future about it; I doubt this is the last we will speak about the issue.
I told him my partner and I would not circumcise a boy if we had another... that one of our son's was circumcised and one was not.
He said he would be glad to speak with those that hadn't circumcised their boys... telling them how horrible it is to be raised Jewish only to be ready for their marriage in the Temple and to not be allowed because they really truly were not Jewish by having an intact penis. I told him that none of these people I know have anything to say to him.
I told him we would have to agree to disagree. He said he hoped this issue wouldn't remove us from the membership.
And it is then that I reminded myself of his humanity and his fallability and that my reality is just as valid (if not more so) than his on this issue. That I, too, am a Rabbi in my life.
It just makes me so very sad.
wiping tears still
And this on my first son's 22nd birthday. How I wish I had never had him cut. I learned so much from him.