Friday, September 21, 2012

Me But Not My Son: A Young Jewish Man Breaks Rank on Circumcision

When I found out I was circumcised, I was horrified.

I was in second grade when I first heard about circumcision. A group of boys at school were talking about it. I walked into the middle of the conversation. At this point, I knew some penises looked different than others, but had assumed it was just one more way people were naturally different, like hair or eye color. One of the boys accused the Jews of circumcising their babies. I was the only Jew at my school so I felt I had to defend my people. How could a religion of tikun olam do something destructive to their newborns?

The scariest part for me, then, was thinking this might have been done to me. I couldn’t believe my parents would have done this, so I told the other boys there was no way Jews did this to their newborns and that I wasn’t circumcised. I didn’t find out I was wrong until some time later. One day, my dad pointed to the table in my house where it had happened to me and talked about it. He seemed proud but he might have been joking. After he told me, I ran to my room crying. My mom comforted me. Before this, I had felt proud of being perfect, unaltered. Now I knew I had been changed.

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