Thursday, October 26, 2023
12-1:30 p.m. EDT
Join us for a fascinating discussion of baby-welcoming rituals. How might we sanctify and honor the traditional brit (covenant) in ways that offer alternatives to traditional milah (circumcision)? What would it look like to welcome baby boys into the covenant without circumcision? Together we will explore issues involved in deciding to circumcise or not to circumcise, including personal experiences around this decision and alternative rituals to circumcision. Ritualwell welcomes the variety of opinions shared by the speakers and supports an open discussion. We seek not to endorse any particular view on this topic but to provide support and a welcoming space for the evolving traditions of the Jewish communities around us. We invite the audience to take part in a facilitated Q&A and to be inspired to create personal rituals that support their own Jewish life and expression. Rabbi Elyse Wechterman will share her views and journey as a mother and Rabbi; Max DuBoff and Lisa Braver Moss will describe the founding and activities of the organization Bruchim: Opting Out of Circumcision; and Rabbi Haviva Ner-David will discuss her experience navigating and helping spiritual companion clients make a decision, as well as her latest novel, To Die in Secret, which explores this decision as well. All sessions will be recorded and sent to participants. We encourage live attendance for you to get the most out of the experience.
Rabbi Elyse Wechterman is the CEO of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. She has taught at the college and adult level in many settings and worked broadly with children and families with special needs to create inclusive communities for Jews of all abilities and backgrounds. She also previously worked for the national Reconstructionist movement as Director of Congregational Services and consulted with congregations throughout the movement on governance, growth, decision making and other congregational issues. Her article, “A Plea for Inclusion,” arguing for the welcoming and inclusion of families questioning or opting-out of brit milah in Jewish communities, was published in The Covenant of Circumcision: New Perspective on an Ancient Jewish Rite (edited by Elizabeth Wymer Mark) in 2004. Her Brit Atifayh (Covenant of Wrapping) on Ritualwell has been widely used since its creation in 1995.
Max DuBoff is a PhD candidate in Philosophy and Classics at Yale University researching various topics in philosophical bioethics. As Director of Education for Bruchim, Max helps create resources in a variety of media to facilitate engagement with Jewish perspectives on circumcision. Max is the lead author of the recent paper “B’rit Shalom: A Jewish Ritual Alternative to Newborn Male Circumcision,” published in a special issue of the International Journal of Impotence Research on child genital cutting. Max is passionate about the intersection between Jewish law and practice and bioethics.
Rabbi Dr. Haviva Ner-David is a rabbi and writer. She is the rabbinic founder of Shmaya: A Mikveh for Mind, Body, and Soul, the only mikveh in Israel open to all to immerse as they choose. Ordained as both a rabbi and an interfaith minister, certified as a spiritual companion (with a specialty in dreamwork), and holding a doctorate on mikveh from Bar Ilan University, she offers mikveh guidance and spiritual companioning for individuals and couples and mikveh workshops and talks for groups. She is the author of three spiritual journey memoirs, two novels, and the first and only children’s book on mikveh. She lives in Israel on Kibbutz Hannaton, is the mother of seven children, a teacher and lives with FSHD, a genetic muscular disease, which has been her biggest life challenge.
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