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I Buried My Son's Foreskin

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Momlogic's Jenny: For some, the idea that we buried our son's foreskin may seem tribal, archaic, and downright barbaric. But for us, it was a simple and beautiful ritual that I will cherish always.

baby and family

When my husband and I found out that we were going to have a son, it was without question that we would have him circumcised. As Jews, the tradition of Bris Mila, the ritual of circumcision, is considered the most important covenant in Judaism. The Bris Mila, which is only performed on boys and takes place on the eighth day after he is born, has been carried out faithfully from generation to generation. In Judaism, circumcising your son is seen as a promise to God that we as Jews will continue to exist and create future generations. On top of that, my husband is circumcised and wanted his son to "be like him." For me, it also comes down to aesthetics: I personally think uncircumcised penises are ugly. Should that be one other thing I have to worry about my (one day) teenage son getting taunted in the locker room for?

Before our son was born, we did an extensive amount of research on the ritual- from who we would want to conduct it to where to why to how... We talked to doctors, Mohels (observant Jews who are specially trained in the procedure- and in this day and age, are usually doctors or surgeons themselves), friends- anyone who had an opinion on how this might medically affect our son. We wanted the ceremony to be as "by the book" and traditional as it could be, but we also wanted to make sure it was as humane and painless as possible. Would he cry? Yes, but not mostly because they're exposed. (If you're a parent, then you know this is true. Infants hate having their diaper changed). Would he remember this experience? My husband is pretty sure he has no recollection of his. Would he still have the same sensitivity and enjoy sex as much as non-circumcised males? I think you can guess my husband's answer to this one.

Despite our strong belief in circumcision, many people, including family members, had strong opinions and were outraged by our decision to go ahead with the procedure. At a family gathering, when I was still pregnant, one cousin even told me what we were going to do was "barbaric" and "wrong." She told me that she had just read that "they" are now saying there is no medical evidence of circumcision reducing the risk of STDs or other hygenic issues and that she "urrrrrrrrges me to reconsider."

Of course we didn't reconsider -- we just didn't invite her to the bris. I won't lie: The day of my son's bris was a very tough and emotional one. But I don't think it was entirely due to the fact that my son was getting "his penis hacked off" as some non-believers think. I think the fact that I had nearly 75 people in my living room on a hot September day, 8 days after delivering a 7.5lb baby vaginally and having milk exploding from my boobs, and hormones raging like Niagara Falls is what made it hard. The act itself was beautiful, spiritual, and memorable in a way that I wish for all families considering this tradition.

Even more memorable was the moment that my husband, baby and I shared alone after the guests left and the bagels and lox were cleaned up.  We went out to the backyard and underneath our new plum tree, wrapped in gauze, buried our son's foreskin.  In Judaism, anything that comes from the earth, goes back to the earth. It's also customary to bury it near a young tree- as our son grows, so too shall the tree. We stood as a family and reflected on our day, reflected on my pregnancy, and marveled at our new son, never once casting a doubt that we had committed a horrible disservice to our child that we are so often criticized for.

Fourteen months later, I have more plums than I know what to do with....

next: Meet the Peetes: A Night to Benefit Autism
54 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous November 20, 2008, 2:17 PM

Thank you for writing this, most people don’t understand the ritual and it’s really something that is spiritual and meaningful. Enjoy your family and never worry about what others may think, it’s what’s important to you that matters!

Kate November 20, 2008, 3:45 PM

I am surprised that so many people were opposed to the idea of circumcision. I know that “they” are trying to persuade people to avoid the procedure now, but I thought it was still the “norm” to circumcize baby boys. Either way, I agree with you: uncircumcized ones are gross!

Jennifer November 20, 2008, 4:46 PM

It seems like people don’t talk about this often but if you are having a Boy it weighs on your mind. I am having a Baby Boy in February and I always thought is was normal to circumcise the baby. I would rather have it done as an infant then when he is older and more self conscious. People that disagree should keep it to themselves.

Heather November 20, 2008, 5:13 PM

While I can’t say that I would cherish anything concerning my son’s foreskin as much as it seems you do, I think that this is a beautiful observance. I think you’ve managed to take something that is usually treated with such sterility and make it a warm and cherished memorial for your family.

If you ever move and sell the house though, I wouldn’t bother telling the new owners about the secret behind your the plum tree’s bountiful harvest.

Joie at Canned Laughter November 20, 2008, 5:15 PM

You should have seen my eyes bug out of my head when I read your cousin’s “advice”. Having had the honor to participate in three of my nephews’ Bris ceremonies, I can think of nothing nicer than being surrounded by loving family on this precious day. Although our family does not practice the burial you spoke of, I think it is beautiful. May the fruits of tree always be as sweet as the fruits of your belief.

Tom November 20, 2008, 5:27 PM

Are there any other normal body parts you consider gross?
Perhaps the creator will consult you next time he or she is designing genitalia, to benefit from your advice.
Is a man’s foreskin any more or less gross than a woman’s foreskin? I never hear anyone complaining about a woman’s foreskin, or calling it names, but there is no difference between a male and a female foreskin.

Martin November 20, 2008, 5:43 PM

Circumcision is disgusting. End of story.

Samantha Amses November 20, 2008, 5:47 PM

I would never not circumcise my child!!! Not doing it when they are a baby is an awful thing to put your child through because if you dont circumcise when they are babies they will eventually do it themselves — and it will hurt WAYYYY more. Men have enough insecurities they do not need to worry about circumcision too! I have never heard a man complain about being circumcised however I do know a few guys who had to get themselves circumcised later in life. Not circumcising will affect your child for life!!!

Anonymous November 20, 2008, 7:10 PM

Thanks for the BS Samantha. What medical literature backs up your claim? What major sociological/anthropoligical study? In fact, is there any credible evidence that you can share with us. Most of the world’s men are not circumcised and are living perfectly normal and healthy lives. I am one of them. It’s ridiculous to say that the human male mammal needs to be fixed because the design is flawed. The design is not flawed, but rather human thinking is.

Martin November 20, 2008, 7:11 PM

Thanks for the BS Samantha. What medical literature backs up your claim? What major sociological/anthropoligical study? In fact, is there any credible evidence that you can share with us. Most of the world’s men are not circumcised and are living perfectly normal and healthy lives. I am one of them. It’s ridiculous to say that the human male mammal needs to be fixed because the design is flawed. The design is not flawed, but rather human thinking is.

Sara November 20, 2008, 7:14 PM

Good story. Thanks for sharing. My son went through his circumcision never even crying. It’s not the strange barbaric thing that people talk about. It’s cleaner, and certainly looks better! I don’t want him uncomfortable in the locker room and although I know the popularity of circumcision varies a lot dependant on the area of the country but in our area it is very rare not to be circumcised. High school is hard enough without worrying about who is looking in the locker room.

Ms. Mommy November 20, 2008, 7:29 PM

To Sara… I think if the other boys are checking out your son’s wing-wang in the locker room, you’ve got bigger problems than him being circumcised or not. Circumcision is archaic and cruel.

Vanessa November 20, 2008, 8:42 PM

To all those who are bothering to comment about how ignorant or cruel or archaic people are who circumsize their sons…give it a rest. That’s your personal opinion and it’s just as personal as someone who breastfeeds (or any other hot topic…baby wearing anyone?) telling someone who doesn’t that they are cruel for depriving their child of this. It’s a personal choice for each couple and you need to let them have that.
To Jenny:
Thank you for sharing your story and being honest. I appreciate that.

Anonymous November 20, 2008, 11:47 PM

cute story. wonder if the plums harden after being handled?

Anonymous November 20, 2008, 11:49 PM

Most women I know would disagree with you, Martin.

doug November 21, 2008, 11:30 AM

It is cleaner and more hygenic if they have it cut off.

lolz November 21, 2008, 12:58 PM

just from experience, i had my son circumcised, and the doctor had told me with the way he was growing, if he hadn’t been circumcised then, he would have had to anyway, and he would have been in a lot of paint until he was. This was particular to my son, not a normal occurence, but after hearing that my son would have been in pain if we had decided not to do it, that made me cry at the thought of it! It is just easier to do it while they are infants instead of running into problems (physical and otherwise) down the road. He cried while getting it done, but right after was happy and even fell asleep. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t circumcise. Beautiful background btw, I had no idea!

Anonymous November 21, 2008, 7:17 PM

I can understand circumcision for the reason of religious beliefs. I cannot, however, understand choosing to put an 8 day old (or younger) infant through an elective surgery because “it looks gross.” The United States is one of the only countries in the world where circumcision is the cultural norm. There is quite a bit of literature stating that the reason for circumcision in most cases are primarily for personal preference and rarely are they medically necessary. The AAP does not recommend circumcision, and many insurance companies no longer pay for it because there’s no medical reason to have it done. There are cases when it’s necessary, but those are few and far in between. We don’t remove everyone’s appendix in case they might have appendicitis. We don’t remove everyone’s ears in case they get an ear infection. We don’t remove tonsils so people don’t get tonsillitis. It is strange that we choose to remove a part of a baby’s body just in case or because of how it looks. If there is a woman who doesn’t want to date my son because he is not circumcised, I would be glad. If she’s that shallow, she’s not good enough for him.

Michael November 22, 2008, 10:27 AM

To abuse the human rights of and mutilate a son of 8 days old is nothing short of incredible. I hope your son can one day forgive you, I wouldn’t.

Laura November 22, 2008, 4:55 PM

In many parts of the world a woman’s natural parts are considered gross and dirty, and in places like Somalia a woman wouldn’t accept food from another woman who had not had the tip of her clitoris cut. Any girl who reaches ten and still has intact genitals will be mercilessly bullied and have sand rubbed in her eyes. Presumably you think this is ok? After all, their cutting tradition is also thousands of years old and linked to deeply held religious belief.

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