‘Can you give me back my foreskin?’ Temp Teacher and former member of the Danish Mosaic Community Leo Milgrom asked Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner in an open letter published in Politiken 07/28/2012.
Read more here (Article in Danish: Kan du give mig min forhud tilbage?)
In an insightful piece Milgrom shared his thoughts on the Jewish culture that had fostered a tradition of circumcision citing scripture on several occasions to expose some of the many commandments that the Jewish community of today have already abandoned.
A modern human being must be able to explore and discuss the culture, traditions and rituals which it is part of, but unfortunately some parts of the Jewish community seem unable to partake in such a debate, he claims. Surely, the time has come to question and abandon and ancient and cruel ritual that leaves children traumatised.
Chief Rabbi has circumcised more than 1.000 infant boys over the years according to his own records and he is the religious head of the Jewish community in Denmark. In that capacity Milgrom asks for answers on behalf of himself and perhaps to the benefit of some of the other boys Lexner circumcised over the years.
The intimate bond of trust between parents and child is irreversible severed during circumcision, substituting family with religion. Later in life, when the boy becomes a man, yet again the circumcision inhibits intimacy between the man and his sexual partner. Between them will always be a third party; religion.
Milgrom’s mother cried during the circumcision, his father nearly fainted, they have confided to him. His question to the Chief Rabbi is ‘Why didn’t the circumciser stop to ask what was the matter?… Did he at any time think: I wonder what this little boy thinks about what I’m doing to him? Do these contemplations not even enter your minds?’
To my knowledge Milgrom’s questions, as I have described them here, remain unanswered. Cheif Rabbi of Denmark Bent Lexner never replied.
When the debate about male genital mutilation (so-called circumcision) flared up in Denmark during the summer of 2012 one of the most compelling opinions voiced was that of journalist and author Kjeld Koplev; ‘In my opinion it is pure torture!’ he exclaimed in a column printed in the prominent Danish newspaper Politiken on 07/18/2012 and continued to explain how the circumcision he suffered through as an infant had left him traumatized and with castration anxiety lasting into adulthood and crippling his life and sexuality.
‘Circumcision is not an act of love.’ he wrote as a response to an opinion voiced by journalist Anders Jerichouw in an editorial in Politiken 07/15/2012 ‘It is a selfish act, wherein some people – in misunderstood religious zealousness – abuse and brand an infant boy. Not more nor less. Any other opinion is simply a rationalisation.’
A circumcised child existing in a primarily uncircumcised society such as the Danish suffers from yet another torment; he is ostracised. Perhaps not literally, but in his own mind. Being different at an age where one desperately wishes to just fit in can be extremely challenging.
Mr. Koplev draws attention to the UN-concention on Childrens Rights (ratified by Denmark) and claims that surely circumcision must be considered a violation.
Accusations of anti-Semitism and other parallels to Nazism and fascism are frequent in the debate about circumcision but as Mr. Koplev frases it; ‘Naturally, my opposition has nothing to do with hatred towards Jews.’ Just as the opposition to female genital mutilation is not rooted in hate towards Islam, the opposition towards male genital mutilation (aka circumcision) is not by any means related to anti-Semitism.
It would be suitable Koplev states if the practitioners themselves abandoned the barbaric tradition of genital mutilation of both boys and girls even before legislation restricts it.