Question Everything: Jews, Circumcision and Netflix

I had a very difficult time coming up with a title for tonight’s post.  If you are reading this then I guess it worked and I shall not let you down regarding the catch words.  And as usual I’ll veer off into related topics and rarely stay on point.  Some would call this “rambling” but I much prefer to call it “Stream of Consciousness” because that is a respected writing style and sounds so much better than “rambling.”

As usual I chose another random movie from Netflix and came up with a TV series from the 1980’s called “30 Something.” This show is about, in Netflix’s own description, “examines the lives of several suburban friends as they grapple with love, marriage, parenthood, work and the ever-present fear that life is passing them by.”  It caught my eye because I happen to be a 30 something and wanted to see what 30 somethings in the 1980’s were dealing with.

Now, for some reason Netflix doesn’t always go to the first in the series and I ended up watching season four’s “Prelude to a Bris” which is a about the parents decision to circumcise or not.  The husband is Jewish and the wife apparently, so far, not religious.  The wife wants to know why they should automatically circumcise the baby and the husband, not being particularly devout, was grappling with tradition vs the feelings of his wife.

I listened to their debates with intensity because this was a recent decision I also had to make.  It was not based on religious reasons but instead the tradition of hospitals to just assume that everyone wants to have their kids circumcised.

As the husband debated with himself, he got some advice from both a Rabbi and an older Jew.  The Rabbi said it was “A covenant with God,” and the older Jew said it was like an unbroken chain of tradition that went back for centuries.  His main point was that nobody was forcing him to continue the chain but would he be the one to want to end this tradition?

As for me, in our enlightened age of 2011 I found it a bit odd that God would base his relationship on a little piece of skin being chipped off the old wiener or not.  There are tons of traditions in all faiths and from my studies of history and travels I’ve come to think that all these traditions were just made up over time for certain reasons.

For example, many religious folk are not supposed to eat pork.  As I researched, I learned that it may have been because if this food is not cooked properly then there is a high chance of getting worms or some other nasty parasite in you.  Thus, this safeguard learned over time eventually gets incorporated into religion and finally becomes God’s word.  Interesting how that works.

By the same logic and from all the debates I have read concerning circumcision it could be that an uncircumcised male might find it a bit more work to wash and keep his favorite part clean which could have led to infections especially in the past when people were not showering daily.

Thus, over time people learned that simply snipping off the foreskin was a simple method of not having bad things happen to Mr. Happy down the road.  And just like meat (pardon the pun) the tradition gets incorporated into religion and becomes something that God apparently once said.

Having reasoned it out like this, I decided not to mutilate my own little boy.  I don’t hold anything against those that are still bound by 2000 year old traditions.  But for me, and more importantly my son, I thought the body knows best and should retain all things that accompanied him at birth.  One of the arguments that swayed me was that the foreskin covers the sensitive part and if you take the foreskin away it will lose sensitivity over time.

Now, one day I can tell him that I did him a very very big favor by bucking the trend of doing something simply because everyone else was doing it.

But, I am not alone.  In San Francisco and other parts of the USA there is actually a petition to stop the barbaric practice.  Think I’m crazy or anti-religion?  No, check out the Jewish Circumcision Resource Center 

“The organization maintains in its petition, that in a modern democratic society there is no place for the “barbaric” ceremony, which mauls a child who does not have any say in the matter. One spokesman for the group, a Jewish man who stated he is proud that his son was not circumcised, explained there are no health benefits, and in some cases, such as contracting herpes, there are disadvantages.”

Moving on to other topics, the older Jewish man in the show said the child’s name in Hebrew.   His English name was Leo (Means Lion, just think of a horoscope), but in Hebrew it was “Lyeb ben Adam.”  What caught my attention was the use of the word “ben” meaning “son of.”

You know what that made me think of?  Osama bin Laden.  I had no idea that Hebrew and Arabic were so close in terms of the word for “son of.”  It then made me think of how few Jews I knew that used Hebrew here in the USA when saying their names yet the Muslims still use the Arabic way regarding bin/ben.

No real point to make on this, I just found it interesting.

As I continued to read and learn about the origins of Jewish names I then got a real shock.


“It is commonly believed that “-sky” is a Jewish surname while “-ski” is not. This spelling difference, however, seems do have more to do with the source of the surname: Russia or Poland. The correct spelling of this common surname suffix in Polish is “-ski”, and Poles usually kept that spelling after immigration to America. In Russia, this suffix is spelled in the Cyrillic alphabet, -sky (in Cyrillic), and may have been transliterated into English as either -ski or -sky. However, a Jewish friend of mine who comes from Moscow tells me that in Russia, names ending in -sky (in Cyrillic) were usually Jewish.”

My grandfathers last name was *******-ski and came from Poland.  Now, it is hard to trace back but I know for sure that the Americans took many liberties when taking down the names of immigrants since the founding of the country.  They just spelled the last names as they heard them (in English) and that is what they became.  So unless I traced that family branch back to Poland there is no way I could be absolutely sure.

But, to end the speculation, I’m pretty sure I’m not Jewish as the Polish side were pretty strong Catholics.  But then again, what if a very distant ancestor just decided to convert?  We know that many Jews did convert (forced, out of fear, or just because) at many times in European history.

So could it not be possible that I have a tiny bit of Jewish blood in me?  After all, I was circumcised against my will, with absolutely no debate on the matter when I was just months old so it looks like my family is following the same traditions although the doctrine changed a bit about 2000 years ago with the world changer JC.

Wow, look where we’ve ended up with this post.  Isn’t it fun that when we start to think a little bit, we just might find that we may question ourselves and have more in common with those who previously were very distant to us?  Through a bit of thought, research and new ideas provided by my beloved Netflix, I learned I might have a bit of Jewish blood through a very distant ancestor!

Even if that is not the case, I just hope people start using their noggin a bit more, start realizing that we are not all that different and if we go far enough back in history we could all be related!  Adam and Eve anyone?  Or hell, God for that matter if you really want to get to the source (sorry for the blasphemy.)

And oh yea, think a bit before you simply cut off a piece of your little boys most important part.  NOT everyone is doing it.

Goodnight – Laila Tov

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! (^.^)/

1 comment

  1. This article came out a few days after my post. Looks like I’m not the only one who thinks circumcision is barbaric.

    “Attitudes toward circumcision shifting”

    Just wanted to point out two things the “pro-cut” people use as reasons for the procedure.

    1. Risk of PENILE CANCER!
    – I think this is a load of nonsense. Besides reading the health journals in today’s media just about everything will kill you. How about this…the stress of living in American society? A lifetime of stress is certain to shorten your life! No siestas, fatty food, the pressure to continually make more and more money so you can buy more and more crap?

    The disease itself is very rare. There is probably more of a likelihood that a piano will fall on your head.

    2. Increased chance of HIV

    – How about not having promiscuous sex with everyone you come into contact with? How about putting on a condom?

    I’m still bitter about this because in High School HIV was new and they told us we were all going to die just like every other epidemic: Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Super Flu. And if it is not that, then the terrorists are sure to get you.

    The message here is if you’re going to have a lot of whoopee then put on a rubber people!

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