Thursday, October 11, 2012 | return to: columns, humor


Tygerpen: Think a bris is painful? Try clip-on earrings

by trudi york gardner

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A few days after each of my boys was born, my family celebrated by inviting to our home a large number of people. They got the honor of viewing our new naked son and seeing him get a piece of his penis removed. There was no pain, because the crowd had been infused beforehand with multiple glasses of Champagne.

This event, known as a bris or ritual circumcision, was for me personally a monumental occasion: It was the first and last time I could make a decision about my sons and not have them argue about it.

Asked if they remember their bris, the boys emphatically say no. That is probably because immediately before the circumcision, they sucked on a wine-saturated piece of cloth. This may explain why most Jewish males, including my sons, share a lifelong aversion to Manischewitz wine.

trudi york gardnerThe happy and festive Jewish event of nudity and alcohol is what a German court has deemed to be a crime. In response to international outrage over the court’s decision, Germany, noted for its historic moral authority, may be designing new legislation. Male circumcision would be permitted if carried out with the safest, most effective anesthetic possible, such as Manischewitz wine or constantly playing the Weather Channel.

Let me state outright that I am opposed to any action that causes human suffering, such as watching all four days of the Republican National Convention. For this reason, when my first son was circumcised as an infant, I employed a mohel, a rabbi who predominantly performed ritual circumcisions. He came to our home, where the bris ceremony was conducted, and everything came off well. (Literally.) For my second son, I asked a friend who was a urologist to perform the bris. The doctor did the appropriate carving and I had no complaints, except for his nonmedical snarky opinion about the size of my son’s operative site.

From the patients themselves, there was only a brief squall following the procedures.

In short, my sons paid a small price so they could one day proudly proclaim their Jewish heritage, like receiving lifetime Jewish federation solicitations.

I keep wondering if those who object to circumcisions will find out that Jesus was circumcised as an infant. He even performed at least one circumcision. It’s also not widely known that the relic claimed to be Jesus’ foreskin has shown up throughout history. According to one author, there were eight, 12, 14 or even 18 different “holy foreskins” in various European towns.

This has never been a Jewish issue, the fate of the foreskins. In fact, my sole medical concern at my sons’ brisses was how long it was safe to leave out the cream cheese for the bagels and lox.

Of course, the outrage over circumcision is a pretext for the real target of German rage: ear piercing. Recently the president of the German Association of Pediatricians compared circumcision to ear piercing, a traumatic procedure that involves “drilling a hole in the ear of a child … like circumcision, causing irreversible damage.”

I am one of three people in America without pierced ears. No one knows pain like a person without pierced ears. (And I’m not including the time my mother accidentally lopped off a piece of my 5-year-old earlobe while attempting to trim my Buster Brown hairstyle.)

People without pierced ears endure the torment of earrings that pinch or drop off and come in only four basic styles of gold or silver: round, oval, square or a loop, all circa 1940-1950. The department stores keep recycling them. Sales clerks laugh and sneer behind your back.

Now that, my German friends, is pain.

Want to know what happens to kids if parents don’t consent to ear piercing because the procedure is considered too barbaric and painful? One day your 10-year-old son will come home defiantly carrying a small bag of Monet clip earrings. And you have to watch him turning … turning … turning the ear screws behind his ears or fastening them on, like mini-tourniquets.

And if you’re a Jewish parent, you think back wistfully to the gentler days. Like your son’s circumcision.

Trudi York Gardner
lives in Benicia and can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or via her blog,


Posted by Bookin' with Sunny
10/11/2012  at  05:28 PM
Trudi, we've been friends for

Trudi, we’ve been friends for how long? And you never knew that there are FOUR people who have unpierced ears! I like to imagine the looks on my granddaughters’ faces when they go through Nana’s jeweled ear baubles (my legacy of self-torture). Shocking. Not unlike how I felt when going through my deceased father’s things (a man who hadn’t set foot in a temple for 70 of his 93 years) I found his paid up membership card for the Jewish Federation, right next to his Rotary pins. I gave away his rotary pins.

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Posted by againstit
10/12/2012  at  11:19 PM
poor attempt at humor

I dont find this funny at all.  Shame on you for taking too lightly the genital mutilation you forced upon your own children.  I hope for the love of all that is sacred they make circumcision illegal in the states too.  As a Jew and a mother I will not have my sons take part in this absolutely disgusting rite.  It reeks of barbarism.  G-d also commands a man to make children with his brothers wife if the brother parishes without doing so himself,or she can steal his left shoe,  and yet this commandment we choose to ignore, and we cut off a vital part of our sons sexual organ and say that it is in the name of G-d?  How dare you joke of such things!!!  Did you also circumcise your daughters?  What kind of sociopath thinks this is okay?

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Posted by Brother K
10/13/2012  at  02:22 AM
Jews Against Circumcision

Genital Integrity is the right of every human being.  It’s sad that you jeer at the concept. Facebook has a page that might enlighten you:
We are a group of educated and enlightened Jews who realize that the barbaric, primitive, torturous, and mutilating practice of circumcision should never have had a place in Judaism.

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Posted by JSwinson
10/17/2012  at  05:40 AM
Sad & Frustrating

Your boys will have plenty of Jewish heritage to celebrate WITHOUT losing an important part of their anatomy during a painful and unnecessary procedure. I find it very unsettling that you were so excited that “It was the first and last time I could make a decision about my sons and not have them argue about it.” right there you admit they are helpless to consent or object.

I hope for the sake of your future relationship with your sons you do more research, and can come to recognize and regret what you’ve done. Every day more people have access to more information how truly terrible this practice is, and it is very likely your sons will know what they’ve lost and will confront you about it. I would recommend these Judaism & Circumcision resources:

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Posted by Drew&Deb;
10/17/2012  at  09:50 AM
That a mother would joke

That a mother would joke about forcing cosmetic surgery on her helpless infants in front of scads of people is disgusting.

I think the most respectful way to embrace judaism is my allowing your children to grow up and CHOOSE to be jews. As it is now, they are branded with the mark at 8 days old whether they like it or not. Is that how you want to encourage belief in your father and in the title of “chosen people”?

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Posted by Hugh7
10/17/2012  at  01:59 PM
Truly disgusting

That is the sickest attempt at humour I’ve seen for a long time.

Madam, nobody is forced to wear earrings.

Jesus was circumcised? He was also reportedly crucified - both, Christians believe, so that we need not be. Jesus performed circumcision? Google finds nothing. Citation please.

Your Coefficient of Objectivity and Circumcision Knowledge is 8. See http:/// for the calculation.

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Posted by Hugh7
10/17/2012  at  06:51 PM


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