Video of Celebrating Brit Shalom Book and Music Presentation

blue-soapbox On Sunday, May 1st, I gave a presentation on Celebrating Brit Shalom, the first comprehensive resource for Jewish families questioning, and opting out of, circumcision. The event took place at Temple Sinai in Oakland, and the video is now available (attached below; scroll down). I only wish my Floridian co-author, Rebecca Wald, had been able to join me.


I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to speak at my own congregation, and am especially grateful to Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin for her groundbreaking introduction. Here’s what Rabbi Mates-Muchin said about Jewish families choosing not to circumcise:

“What I have appreciated so much about Lisa’s contribution to this conversation [is that] we don’t have to argue about who’s right… As an established Jewish community, what we need to recognize is that Jewish families are making this decision [not to circumcise]. So what do we do from there? Do we welcome and include the people who are interested in connecting with Jewish community and Jewish tradition and Jewish life? Or do we leave them out of this story? It is very much in our interest, and in the interest of so many of the other Reform congregations throughout the country… [to] say of course we want to welcome people, we want to connect people.”

To my knowledge, up until now, no rabbi of a major congregation has publicly acknowledged that non-circumcising families exist in the Jewish community—and that they should be included and welcomed. Since this is an idea I’ve been pushing for a number of years now, the rabbi’s recognition was a thrilling moment for me.

After making a brief presentation about my own experience when my sons were born, I read excerpts from Celebrating Brit Shalom, then led a Q & A period among members of the congregation, non-Jewish intactivists, and others in attendance including several Jewish members with intact sons. It was a remarkably civil, respectful discussion, given that the topic of circumcision can be very contentious.

The event also included a live performance of Songs for Celebrating Brit Shalom, the music written to accompany the ceremonies in the book. I was joined by my son Reuben Moss, who composed the music, and eight other Temple Sinai singers for this debut performance. I’m so very grateful to Michele Buchman, Eve Chosak, Andrea Daniel, Jessica Furer, my husband Mark Moss, Norma Blase Perelstein, Orit Vogel and Claire Warhaftig for their musical participation.


Singers performing Songs for Celebrating Brit Shalom.



My miniature diorama of a brit shalom ceremony.



Brit shalom babies smile at 8 days.



Note that most babies need two months to begin smiling. A very precocious infant here…







I hope you enjoy the video, which was shot, edited and produced by Dominic Beard.

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One Response to “Video of Celebrating Brit Shalom Book and Music Presentation”

  1. bkluger Says:

    Isn’t it interesting that when Jews talk about circumcision, it is outside of a sexual context even though it is a mutilation of the penis? We are supposed to rejoice in the reestablishment of our covenant with God and the Jewish People when we do this procedure to the new baby. We are commanded by God to do to our children what has been done throughout the ages, whether we actually believe in God or not. After all, circumcision is done to a baby boy to include him into Jewish life.

    Of course, people in our society are very uneasy talking openly about genitals and sexuality. When grown men talk about their foreskin, whether intact or cut away, they are talking about their adult perspective, their adult sexual experiences, and their feeling of having their genitals whole or “modified.” They are not talking about their covenant with God or that they are glad to have paid the entrance fee to a Jewish life with their foreskin. There seems to be no recognition in the Brit Milah ceremony that the child’s physical future as a sexual adult will be different, perhaps less pleasurable. There is also no outward recognition that it might be morally wrong to force circumcision on a child without his consent. Everyone involved just accepts circumcision as a Jewish requirement, as the first life-cycle event for the boy.

    Perhaps if there were acknowledgment at the Bris that cutting the foreskin does have lifelong effects — that there will be sexual differences — people might embrace the act of marking the body in a significant way to communicate the strength and power of their Jewish heritage. But, maybe, more parents would simply opt out instead.

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