(Rabbi Harry A. Manhoff of Temple Beth Sholom refutes a recent in which author Richard Mellor used terms such as "barbaric" to describe male circumcision.)
Richard Mellor's vicious diatribe against circumcision is not only hyperbolic, it borders on anti-Semitic.
Circumcision is not barbaric just because he says so. Ritual circumcision is removing an extra flap of skin that may or may not prevent penile and cervical cancer, may or may not prevent the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and it may or may not reduce sexual sensation. These medical questions are still not settled.
What is clear is that ritual circumcision practiced by Jews, Muslims, and some African communities is no different than medical circumcision practiced throughout the United States for generations.
Mellor writes: "Circumcision for health reasons of course are different."
Why is that not genital mutilation? Based on Mellor's other writing, it seems that his hatred of religion is the basis of this vitriol. In the past he has railed against the church for being against a woman's right to choose an abortion, which he does not describe as "barbaric."
I am a pro-choice clergyman. For me, my religion is not "pretty bizarre" and circumcision is not Abraham's imagination of "a supernatural being that he apparently communicated with."
For me, the ritual obligations of Judaism and all religions, are the impetus for all of ethical and moral behavior. My tradition demands of me consistency in my respect of ethical and ritual choices made by others outside of my tradition.
If Mr. Mellor does not want to circumcise his sons, I respect his choice. I hope he respects my choice as well.
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