News Release — August 24, 1998

On August 24, 1998, millions of American learned for the first time that not all Jews circumcise their sons and that a growing number of Jews question the ancient practice. The twelve-minute story was broadcast on National Public Radio’s popular news magazine program “All Things Considered.”

It was revealed that the Jewish media has run articles questioning circumcision and that there is a group in Israel that opposes circumcision. Jewish parents who did not circumcise their son were interviewed. One couple decided not to circumcise their son because they felt it was traumatic. Reluctance to inflict pain on a child was a primary reason parents offered for not circumcising. They also noted that Jewish law forbids inflicting pain and cutting or marking the body.

Ronald Goldman, Ph.D., a Boston psychologist, author of Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective, and executive director of the Circumcision Resource Center, talked about the history of questioning circumcision. He observed that Moses did not circumcise his son, and the leader of the movement to establish a Jewish state, Theodor Herzl, did not circumcise his son, born in 1891. Goldman has been contacted by hundreds of Jews who question circumcision.

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, the leader of a Jewish renewal congregation in New Mexico, agreed with other mothers that watching her son’s circumcision was distressing. She believed that circumcision was not a major factor in Jewish identity and that observing the Sabbath was more important than circumcising.