Making the Cut

Who circumcises their sons? A brief look at circumcision rituals in different religions.

Only a few religions practice the ritual of circumcision, removal of the foreskin.


Jews circumcise their newborn boys as a physical sign of God's covenant with the Jewish people. The circumcision ceremony marks a boy's welcome into this covenant and into the Jewish community.



  • Ceremony called:
    Brit milah, literally, Covenant of Circumcision.

  • When performed:
    Circumcision is performed on the child's eighth day of life, including the day of the birth.

  • Who performs it:
    The mohel, a religious Jew educated in Jewish law and in the circumcision ritual.

  • Textual source:
    "And G-d said unto Abraham: 'And as for thee, thou shalt keep My covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt Me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner, that is not of thy seed...and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken My covenant.'"
    --Genesis 17:9-14

  • Controversy:
    An anti-circumcision movement has mounted in recent years, with active and vocal Jewish members. Anti-circumcision groups claim the act is traumatic for the baby and can result in lifelong damage, including psychological problems and a reduced sex drive. For more on this topic, see:
  • Is Circumcision Really Necessary?
    A Jewish mother looks into the reasons for performing the brit milah ceremony.
  • Brit Milah: Beautiful or Barbaric?

    Additional Jewish circumcision resources:
  • A Female Mohel Discusses the Ritual
  • Bris Preparation Checklist
  • Find a Mohel
  • Welcoming Jewish Daughters

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