A History of Brit Milah

A comprehensive look at the history of the Jewish practice of circumcising baby boys on the eighth day of life--and of various attempts to end this rite.

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Circumcision Today

In recent years, Reform Jews have returned to celebrating this and other religious rituals, maintaining certain major differences from the Orthodox. (One is the inclusion of women in the performance of the ritual and another is the recogni­tion of patrilineal as well as matrilineal descent. Thus, Reform rabbis accept that the son of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother can be considered Jewish if both par­ents are committed to raising him as a Jew, just like the son of a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father.) The Reform movement now recognizes the importance of cir­cumcision to Jewish identity in a mixed society.

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Michele Klein has a PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of London. She is the author of New Life: A Diary For Jewish Parents and A Time To Be Born.