THE GUARDIAN, London, 31 August 1996.


From the Guardian newspaper of 31 August 1996 by David Flusfeder.

Most boys born, like me, in the Sixties, in North America, came out of 
hospital  with the heads of their penises bare, unconcealed,
clean—mutilated you might say.


My wife is not Jewish.  Our child—regardless of the condition of his 
penis—is not Jewish, if you pay attention to the Orthodox 
authorities.  All the same, it was important to me  to have Julius 
circumcised.  some of my friends tried to explain to me that I was 
worried, unconsciously, about seeing my son with a different kind of 
penis to my own.  Others, more sternly, announced that, because I had had 
my life blighted by a mutilated, partly desensitised penis, I wanted my 
son to suffer as I had.  then they'd shake their heads, mutter words like 
child abuse;  and look for someone better to talk to.


But it felt to me at the time—and it still does—that by having a 
child I was suddenly closer in touch with those who had gone 
before......Despite my own lack of faith—in God, in religion, in 
handed-down identity—for maybe the first time in my life I felt Jewish 
..... Julius was to be circumcised.

I didn't have to convince my wife.  I felt strongly about the subject.  
Susan liked the fact that I felt strongly about the subject.  It seemed 
good to her—yes, sort of primitive, but in an impressive, elemental 
way.  Her aesthetic attitude anyway was that circumcised penises are more 
pleasing than uncircumcised.  She was apprehensive but content.
I had to arrange it.  No one at the hospital would do it.  No one I knew 
had had a circumcised son <I live in a liberal, squeamish world>.


On the telephone Dr Cohen [the GP who was to perform the circumcision, 
privately, i.e. not on the National Health Service] asked me what my 
reasons were for having the operation done.  I told him `tribal';  he 
seemed satisfied with that.  Julius was about a week old now.  Dr Cohen 
said that he preferred to perform the operation when the child was two 
weeks old. 


``What sort of anaesthetic do you use?'', I asked.
``Oh, none at all'', said Dr Cohen a little too airily for my tastes.  ``I 
find the trauma of the anaesthetic is just as great as the trauma of the 
operation. Also it gives him another thing to recover from.''
``Quite,'' I said.  ``See you in a week.''
``You know , it still won't make him Jewish,'' said Dr Cohen.


``Now,'' said Dr Cohen.  ``Hold his knees down and apart.  It's quite 
important you keep him still.''
``Yes.''  I said.  ``I understand.''

Susan was sobbing silently by now in the armchair.


``Relax,'' said Dr Cohen.  ``It's very safe.  it's the oldest operation in 
the world.''

I held Julius's legs down and apart.  whenever I felt a tremor from him, 
I pushed down slightly harder on the knees.  The action seemed to comfort 
him.  He stopped crying.  He became calm.  it was almost as if he trusted 

Dr Cohen gathered Julius's foreskin between his fingers, pulled it away, 
and his sad little glans was exposed.....I heard the sound of Dr Cohen's 
breathing, and then I heard the sound of scissors tearing through skin.  
and then, a moment later, the horrible scream that Julius made of utter, 
excruciating pain 
``That's it.  It's done.''


``You can give something to my receptionist downstairs,'' said Dr Cohen.
He meant money.  we gave UKP 100 to the receptionist downstairs.  Dr 
Cohen kept the foreskin.  He sent it on to a project doing research into 
 ..... Supposedly, circumcised penises have 30 per cent less sensitivity 
than uncircumcised ones.  Supposedly,  circumcised penises are less 
implicated in the spreading of cervical cancer.  I don't think anyone 
circumcises his or her child for either of these reasons.  And if there 
is a worry about the `great discomfort' that smegma can cause, then 
lessons in hygiene are probably a better way to deal with it than surgery.


God is perfect, man cannot be, so let us blemish our synagogue floors and 
mutilate our sons to prove it.
I still don't believe in God.  And if I have another son I am sure that 
he will be circumcised too.

(File revised 15 May 2008)