Monday, July 9, 2012

George Wald and circumcision

I just had the opportunity to read George Wald's essay on circumcision.

George Wald (November 18, 1906 – April 12, 1997) was an American scientist who is best known for his work with pigments in the retina. He won a share of the 1967 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Haldan Keffer Hartline and Ragnar Granit. (Wikipedia - )

His essay is amazing. Anything that one could say about circumcision, he said it already with the authority of a man of science and a member of the Jew faith.

A highly recommended reading, especially in the light of the German ruling against circumcision of infants and the general outcry about how this is a decision against the freedom of religion, or even more, a manifestation of antisemitism.

From this essay:

It is with the greatest hesitation, since I have no right and know so little, that I should like to suggest to my fellow Jews that perhaps the time has come to redeem the foreskin itself, rather than sacrifice it. Surely some substitute might be found for this rite, perhaps even involving a token drawing of blood from an older child, that would be preferable to this assault upon and mutilation of a newborn infant.


For it is a barbarous thing to meet a newly born infant with the knife, with a deliberate mutilation. And the part that is removed is not negligible; it has clear and valuable functions to perform. Not circumcising a boy will not only spare him a brutal violence as he enters life; it will promise him a richer existence.

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