Anti-circumcision push worries American rabbis


A court battle in Florida between a mother and father over the circumcision of their son has sparked a US-wide debate on circumcision and fuelled campaigns against the brit milah.

A legal fight that has lasted several years over the circumcision of non-Jewish, four-year-old Chase Nebus-Hironumus recently hit the headlines when the court sided with his father, who wants the procedure to happen.

However, anti-brit campaigners - including many Jews - held up Chase's mother as a martyr in their cause.

Jonathan Friedman, a 27-year-old anti-circumcision activist who grew up in an Orthodox home in Brooklyn, predicted that the Florida case could have a trickle-down effect. "A shift is happening within the Jewish community in the United States," he said.

Mr Friedman - who encountered medical problems that he attributed to his own brit - has raised money to help Chase's mother fight her case.

Rebecca Wald, a Florida-based author and anti-brit activist, who has also been involved in the Nebus-Hironumus case, said: "People are starting to question circumcision. People are concerned about the pain." Ms Wald predicts that the percentage of circumcisions in the US will decline further for both Jews and non-Jews.

Yitzchok Adlerstein, an Orthodox rabbi in New York, said that the trend was in line with what has been happening "for decades… Circumcision was an important buffer against total assimilation, and it is tragic to witness it stopping as a universal practice."

Brooklyn-based Orthodox rabbi Aryeh Ralbag, who leads kosher certification agency Triangle K, said: "It's something to be worried about, especially now. We're losing among our own."

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