- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Vanguard Publications (October 30, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0964489562
- ISBN-13: 978-0964489561
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective Paperback – October 30, 2015
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"A bold, compassionate, and powerful critique of Jewish circumcision. With revealing new research, Goldman calls attention to the unrecognized physical and psychological effects connected with this procedure." -- MYRON SHARAF, Ph.D., lecturer and author, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
"Dr. Goldman has written a thoughtful, provocative book on a difficult subject. He challenges us to reexamine long-held assumptions and to reconsider the practice of milah (ritual circumcision) in light of contemporary evidence. By giving us an insightful and carefully documented exploration of a controversial perspective, Dr. Goldman helps to foster a healthy and valuable dialogue within the Jewish community." -- RABBI JONATHAN KRAUS, Beth El Temple Center
"For thousands of years we have ceremoniously circumcised our sons without knowing or honestly considering how this practice affects the child. In this book, Ronald Goldman presents us with compelling new information that we can't ignore." -- RABBI BEVERLY LERNER, psychotherapist
"Goldman's analysis of Jewish reluctance to discuss circumcision is right on the mark. The collective Jewish psyche will benefit from confronting circumcision anxieties and myths. This book will facilitate that process and should lead to more than a few changes of heart and mind." -- DR. RICHARD SCHWARTZMAN, psychiatrist
"If you are a liberal Jew, whether you see circumcision as the sanctification of the covenant, as a ceremony marking you as a Jew, or otherwise, this book stimulates deeper reflection about the practice. As an aware, concerned, and introspective people, Jews must examine whether our rites are right. We must determine if our ceremonies, traditions, and practices reflect our innermost beliefs. Asking ourselves and each other the question 'Why?' is one of the most sacred tasks to which a modern Jew can dedicate himself or herself." -- RABBI DONALD POLLOCK, pastoral psychotherapist, writer, and lecturer
"Jewish circumcision has traditionally been the province of males. This groundbreaking book sheds new light on the issue by also including women's views and feelings about circumcision." -- RABBI LYNN GOTTLIEB, Nahalat Shalom Congregation
"The information in this book was the most comprehensive we found. It was very useful in our decision not to circumcise. And after my father read it, he said he could really understand our feelings. I am certain that we made the right decision." -- AVIVA FURMAN, mother of uncircumcised son
"Thorough, moving, convincing, and of staggering importance. I believe this book will change Judaism for the better." -- MICHAEL KORAN, Jewish educator
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Perspective, follows on the heels of his masterpiece Circumcision:
The Hidden Trauma. While the earlier book provided a stunning,
magisterial overview of the entire subject of circumcision, this
slimmer volume focuses on a more specialized analysis of the
procedure from a Jewish point of view.
Goldman again succeeds at integrating emotional, psychological,
scientific, and humanistic considerations while surveying the great
diversity of attitudes held toward this procedure among Jews. He
reveals and meticulously documents a number of surprising facts
which contravene widely held beliefs about the subject. Far from
enjoying a consensus within the Jewish community, circumcision has
not always been practiced by all Jews. As early as the 1840's,
leaders of the Reform movement tried to stop circumcision. In the
1860's, a group of sixty-six Jewish physicians opposed the
practice. The procedure as performed today in the United States is
much more extensive than the original circumcisions, which merely
removed the very tip of the foreskin. These changes and conflicts
suggest that the supposed Jewish mandate for circumcision may be
Goldman discusses and questions a number of suggested benefits to
Jewish males of the procedure. Although many believe circumcision
necessary for Jewish survival and identity, under Jewish law, any
child born of a Jewish mother is a Jew, whether circumcised or not.
While the procedure is often suggested to promote connection with
other Jews, Goldman notes that the extreme discomfort and anxiety
often provoked by circumcision may actually inhibit connection.
Crisply summarizing some of the highlights from his earlier book,
Goldman notes that health claims are highly speculative at best,
and pain research has proven the extreme trauma suffered by the
infant boy. Behavioral changes have been documented to follow most
circumcisions, as boys become very irritable and interruption
occurs to parent-infant bonding and feeding schedules.
Goldman writes that unrecognized consequences of the procedure may
include promotion of a negative attitude to male sexuality. The
personal stories by circumcised men and by mothers and fathers are
quite moving. Some parents came to deeply regret their decision to
circumcise while others feel gratified that they reached eleventh-
hour determinations not to carry out the procedure.
Goldman takes the offensive later in the book, suggestion that the
Torah's commandment against assaulting another person actually
forbids circumcision. He notes that blind conformance to authority
is antithetical to Jewish values, and many potential benefits of
foregoing circumcision exist. An appendix contains Goldman's
response to traditionalist supporters of the procedure, which is
drawn entirely from passages in the Torah.
In Goldman's discussion of Jewish men's views of Jewish women, I
was troubled by his inability to transcend standard views of
misogyny while failing to also consider possible misandry, as I was
by his repetition of the big lie that men commit most domestic
violence. Nevertheless, future research needs to be carried out in
accordance with his insightful suggestion that many Jewish men may
harbor anger toward Jewish women due to their circumcisions, for
which they may subconsciously hold their mothers primarily
responsible. From the infant's perspective, Goldman notes, he is
experiencing betrayal by his mother at a most vulnerable time in
Goldman includes several useful appendices including two mothers'
stories, a discussion of circumcision and anti-Semitism, and sample
alternative rituals in which the baby's foreskin is not touched.
Ronald Goldman has gifted us with his second tightly reasoned,
impeccably documented, and heartfully written book about a
procedure which should be of concern to all men and women who care
about children or society, whatever your faith may be.'
As Dr. Goldman demonstrates, medical evidence purporting to show the benefits of routine infant circumcision have, in the last few years, been thoroughly disproven. Further studies have also shown that circumcision, far from being a harmless and painless procedure, is one of the most painful procedures that can be performed on an infant and has potentially far-reaching detrimental physical and psychological consequences.
Dr. Goldman points out that an ever growing movement among Jews, seeking more compassionate and just rituals with which to welcome our new-born sons, are seriously considering the moral and spiritual dilemma surrounding circumcision brought about by the weight of this medical evidence. This growing, grass-roots movement among Jews is creating a variety of new rituals that celebrate the birth of Jewish baby boys without subjecting them to needless pain and suffering.
With medical evidence proving the merits of leaving our sons uncircumcised, and spiritual evidence demonstrating that leaving our sons uncircumcised is entirely congruent with Jewish ethics, Jewish parents-to-be no longer need to feel the secret dread accompanying the birth of a boy. In dispensing with painful rites of circumcision in favor of painless and loving ceremonies, the birth of Jewish baby, boy or girl, can be a truely joyous event.
Dr. Goldman points out in his book that there are many Jewish rituals outlined in the Bible which have been abandoned in the course of history. We are not a fundamentalist religion. We have an oral and living tradition and our beliefs have constantly evolved. Indeed there is cause to question performing uneccessary surgery on infants in the name of religion or social custom. Part of coming to this realization is also understanding that our American culture notwithstanding, it is not a pathological condition to be born male. Immediate surgical correction is not medically neccessary. Many might find it appalling to compare ritual female circumcision in Africa to Jewish male circumision but we are blinded to the similarities due to widespread ignorance of the normal male anatomy.
Dr. Goldman touches on the religious, medical, social and psychological aspects of this prodecure in a way that has never been attempted before. I highly recommend the book to those willing to have an open mind on something they may have always thought was a non-issue.