Circumcision: Its Place in Judaism, Past and Present: A primer to a better understanding of one of the world’s oldest religious rituals

Author: Samuel A. Kunin, M.D.

J. Steven Svoboda

Recently I have read a whole stack of pro-circumcision books in the interest of “knowing the enemy.” Two physicians who double as mohels have written guides to the Jewish ritual of circumcision. Both Romberg’s and Kunin’s books may be of interest to anyone concerned with male genital integrity, particularly to those interested in Judaic aspects. Romberg’s work, while it is the more dated of the two books (and also happens to currently be out of print), proves itself easily the superior and more engaging of the two.

Samuel Kunin is a prominent proponent of circumcision who has appeared on television to debate leading intactivists. Citing his predecessor Romberg at one point, he comes across as a very enthusiastic but curiously uninformed (or deliberately deceitful) advocate of the procedure. Unlike Romberg, he cheerfully conflates distinct issues (e.g., medical rationales vs. religious rationales) until it almost seems he wishes to defend the practice by confusing the reader. Rather remarkably given his medical degree, he suggests that NO circumcised man has ever had cancer of the penis, which is easily disprovable through a quick search of the medical literature. Despite his intellectual achievements, Kunin seemingly will not allow truth or accuracy to stand in the way of his cheerleading for his favorite procedure. In this respect, Kunin probably resembles other modern-day physician advocates of circumcision. Typographical errors also crop up repeatedly throughout the book. Kunin’s book comes across as a bizarre curiosity, almost comparable to another radically pro-circumcision book written a century earlier, Peter C. Remondino’s History of Circumcision from the Earliest Times to the Present. Proceed with caution! At least read Dr. Romberg’s book first if you can find it!