Beyond the Bris: Rounding Out Its First Year

Jewish Perspectives
Vol. 9
No. 1
Rebecca Wald
Thu, 10/13/2011
Rebecca Wald
Rebecca Wald

This December will mark the one-year anniversary of the launch of Beyond the Bris, a web-based project that is giving voice to the modern Jewish movement opposing male infant circumcision. The site has no political or religious agenda; it is simply a forum for Jewish people of all backgrounds who question the age-old practice of berit mila (covenant of circumcision) to share their thoughts and feelings, as well as information, with Jews and non-Jews alike. Ronald Goldman, Ph.D. first expressed the sentiment that questioning Jewish circumcision is best done within the Jewish community. This has been a guiding principle of Beyond the Bris.

What an exciting first year it's shaping up to be! Beyond the Bris has featured original submissions from Jewish mothers who have opted to hold the brit but skip the mila, with an increasingly popular non-cutting covenantal welcoming ceremony called brit shalom (covenant of peace). Several young Jewish men have bravely shared their stories about the devastating effects of their circumcisions. The project has also published enlightening original interviews with Jewish circumcision opponents who are leaders in the movement, including The Barefoot Intactivist, Miriam Pollack, and Lisa Braver Moss. There is even an entertaining on-camera interview with Blood, Sweat and Tears lead singer Jason Paige, who has written and performed an anti-circumcision parody song about his botched bris. There's a wealth of information on the site about all aspects of the Jewish movement questioning circumcision. New material and links are always being added.

California politics have brought tremendous attention to the anti-circumcision movement this year. The media has been especially interested in Jews who are opposed. Beyond the Bris has been approached for information by the Wall Street Journal and has been mentioned in The Huffington Post, the National Post, the Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Jewish Journal of Greater L.A., the Jewish Reporter, Sexis Magazine, and The Jewish Week--just to name a few!

Even more exciting than the press attention, Beyond the Bris is now being contacted regularly by Jewish parents-to-be seeking advice and information on leaving their sons intact. There is no question the alternative ritual of brit shalom, widely promoted by Mark Reiss, M.D., is becoming well known and more widely practiced.

The inauguration of Beyond the Bris comes at a time when the Jewish movement against circumcision is truly beginning to flourish. The group Jews for the Rights of the Child, founded by activists Tina Kimmel and Brian Levitt, was also started this year and favors outlawing the non-medically necessary circumcision of minor boys. Also, Jonathan Friedman launched Intact News, the first-ever news site dedicated to providing news and information relevant to the genital integrity movement. Intact News is a wonderful project and Beyond the Bris is pleased to say it's our official news source.

Beyond the Bris would not be possible without the support of a vibrant community of Jewish circumcision opponents who have been willing to lend their thinking, experience, and voices to this new project. Beyond the Bris is only as strong as its contributors. Anyone, regardless of religion, who has the time and desire is encouraged to stop by the project and get involved. There are many ways to help. Information about this is available on the site: http://beyondthebris.com.