(Please please do not turn this thread into yet another pro-/anti-circumcision debate! I am looking for advice here on a related issue, not on whether to circumcise of not. The decision not to circumcise our son is final. I thank you in advance.)
As many of you may know, the Beansprout is due in a couple of weeks. He is male. My husband and I are both from Jewish families, but are non-religious. We celebrate our history and culture, but engage in no religious practices. Therefore, we decided not to take our Jewish heritage into consideration when deciding whether or not to circumcise our son. We have decided against circumcision.
My concern is the reaction of our families.
We obviously will not be having a bris (the traditional circumcision ceremony). People will question why we didn’t have one. We figure we can deflect casual inquiries by saying “everything was taken care of at the hospital.” (technically true–we just won’t mention that “everything” didn’t include circumcision.) But of course, the families will find out sooner or later that the baby is uncircumcised, and I see no reason to hide this fact.
My mom is aware that we don’t plan to circumcise, and is unhappy about it. She accepts our decision, though, and admits that a lot of her discomfort comes more from the “ick factor” than from religious considerations. She also was unaware that more and more male babies in the U.S. are not being circumcised, so the “he’ll be different” issue isn’t such an issue any more. I would speculate that most of my family will also accept our decision once we explain it.
My dad, on the other hand, tends to be somewhat more rigid in his thinking. He will be very unhappy with this (knee-jerk reaction), and we will have to endure quite an argument with him. Based on past experience with other issues, though, I predict that he will get over it. Although I dread telling him, I’m not especially concerned that it will be a big issue in the end.
It’s my husband’s family and certain of my husband’s friends that I am worried about.
My husband’s family, while not particularly observant, is concerned about “keeping up appearances” with regard to Judaism. We are not planning to announce anything to them, but someone somewhere will probably change a diaper sooner or later. Word will get out.
My husband’s main concern is that his grandmother not find out, as she will be very very upset. His attitude towards her is not to broach difficult issues, and to let her believe what she wants to believe. (For example, she doesn’t know that I have not taken my husband’s last name, and she thinks that Cousin Mike isn’t married yet because he just hasn’t met the right girl.) If my husband thinks that’s the best approach to take with his grandmother, then I can accept that and cooperate, but I really don’t want to be put in the position of having to hide anything or have to lie about anything.
Anyway, to get to the point–not to circumcise is an unconventional decision for a Jewish family. While I see no need to advertise the decision, I also am not ashamed, and see no benefit to hiding it or lying about it. Fallout will be coming, although I’m not sure what form the fallout will take. I’m hoping that someone out there has some direct experience.
Have any of you Jewish dopers not circumcised your sons? What were the reactions of family and friends? How did you deal with it?