Circumcision, of course, pushes a lot of buttons. It requires us to think about our infant son’s future sex life, not something many young parents are mentally prepared to deal with. Perhaps more problematic is the fact that the practice is of religious importance to Jews and Muslims, and many see attempts to curb the practice as tantamount to anti-Semitism. Last year the German Parliament, acutely aware of such appearances, acted quickly to pass legislation ensuring a parent’s right to have their boys circumcised after a regional court came close to equating the practice with child abuse.
“I was in Germany last year, wearing the bloodstained suit in front of the parliament when they passed the law to legalize circumcision,” says Jonathan Friedman, who arrived in Rhode Island with the Bloodstained Men. “I was there to protest because I’m Jewish, and my family is Orthodox Jewish.” German intactivists were happy to have a Jewish person there, he says.
Brother K understands the sensitivity of the issue as well. “It breaks my heart that so many of our Jewish friends feel that they have to inflict this ancient blood sacrifice, this sacrifice of flesh, on their children,” he says. “Judaism at its core is a very beautiful, spiritual religion, but they’ve kept this horrible custom.”
Changing the American public’s opinion on circumcision is going to be tough. (One woman passing by the event informed me that uncircumcised penises are “gross.”) But Brother K isn’t giving up. “I’m 66 years old and I’ve been working on this all my life,” he says. “I would like to live my last years knowing that we’ve ended this folly.”