San Francisco is at it again. The City by the Bay has a habit of legislating social change by way of banning things that are generally accepted just about everywhere else. Earlier this month, the city’s voters approved a ban on sitting or lying on sidewalks, as a means of combating homelessness, or maybe just moving homeless people across the bay to Berkeley. Also in November, the city’s Board of Supervisors passed a ban on Happy Meals in order to reduce childhood obesity (the mayor vetoed the legislation).
Now – and I’m not making this up, folks – there is a movement in San Francisco to ban the circumcision of males under the age of 18. Anti-circumcision activist Lloyd Schofield is collecting signatures to place a circumcision ban on the November, 2011 ballot. Schofield considers circumcision to be genital mutilation, and states that there should be no religious exemption from his proposed law.
CBS San Francisco reported:
“Tattooing a child is banned as a felony and circumcision is more harmful than a tattoo,” said Schofield, who believes religious traditions should change
“People can practice whatever religion they want, but your religious practice ends with someone else’s body,” said Schofield. “It’s a man’s body and…his body doesn’t belong to his culture, his government, his religion or even his parents. It’s his decision.”
Brit milah is one of Judaism’s most ancient rituals. Rabbis across the denominational spectrum agree that being circumcised is synonymous with being a Jewish male. And our Muslim brothers also keep G-d’s commandment to Abraham. Now to be fair, circumcision is not a topic that anyone I know gets too enthusiastic about. Men who have been circumcised will make uncomfortable jokes about it. There are even Jews who advocate the abandonment of brit milah.
From what I am reading, no one expects this proposal to make it to San Francisco voters next year. But the publicity it is generating is raising for public debate the legitimacy of a foundational element of Jewish religious practice. Did Mr. Schofield ask any of us what we think? Has anyone else?
Now it’s your turn:
Does society have a legitimate interest in limiting circumcision to adults?
Is anti-Semitism entering into this debate?
Is it time for Jews to re-think circumcision?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and remember that you can always post anonymously.
Photo: Bris: ladyhawk