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The Covenant of Circumcision: New Perspectives on an Ancient Jewish Rite (Brandeis Series on Jewish Women) Hardcover – 30 Apr 2003
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..." Mark's excellent introduction is followed by a superb collection of essays by some of the most distinguished scholars in the field of Jewish studies. There is no volume that covers the topic of circumcision so thoroughly, and it will serve an academic audience thirsty for substantial and provocative interpretations of this hotly contested Jewish ritual." --Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College
About the Author
Elizabeth Wyner Mark is a Resident Scholar at the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. A clinical psychologist, she was formerly a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School and a Clinical Supervisor at McLean Hospital. In recent years she has been exploring the application of psychotherapeutic modes of understanding to the study of biblical texts.
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It's noteworthy that this book on circumcision is the product of a woman's labors. Both males and females are served by the inclusion of women's voices discussing their experiences with circumcision as mothers of boys. And it is instructive to listen as women question a covenant rite that does not include them as Jews. The women whose voices are heard range from an Orthodox medical doctor to a secular Jew. A number of the women are rabbis.
Editor Mark is a superbly clear thinker and writer in her Introduction and in her essay on circumcision in Genesis. Her editing has produced a collection that is readable, even where the writers get quite theoretical. Readers who choose this book for its historical information will find fascinating pages that open out from circumcision to broader views of Jewish life in a number of periods and settings.
Though circumcision under the Roman Empire was fraught with controversy (the Abusch essay), for those pondering their own feelings and decisions about circumcising Jewish children today the story really begins with Robin Judd's, "A German Case Study, 1843-1914." In this time and place there are voices arguing that a male may be regarded as a Jew by the community even if he has not been circumcised. Subsequent pieces present circumcision-resisting parents in Israel; the difficulties of deciding to circumcise in Hungary under the shadows of the Shoah, Communism, and continuing anti-Semitism; and a range of views among non-Orthodox rabbis and lay Jews in the U.S. today.
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