Bintel Blog

In New Memoir, Chabon Skewers Circumcision

By Allison Gaudet Yarrow

The best-selling, Pulitzer-winning, famously Jewish author, Michael Chabon, is ready to tell us how he really feels about a particular halakhic ritual.

Page Six reports that in Chabon’s forthcoming memoir, “Manhood for Amateurs,” the author passionately indicts the practice of circumcision, writing:

Mutilation [is] the only honest name for this raw act that my wife and I have twice invited men with knives to come into our house and perform, in the presence of all our friends and family, with a nice buffet and Weekend Cake from Just Desserts.

More than one male author has written recently about the difficulty of watching sons go under the knife. Sam Apple interviewed many mohels before hiring one to perform his son’s circumcision. When the big moment came, Apple admits turning away. Chabon also shopped for a mohel match, but said that pro-circumcision arguments are “debatable at best.”

He has two circumcised sons.

Read more


A Cut Above the Rest: In Search of the Perfect Mohel

By Daniel Treiman

Sam Apple, author of the delightful “Schlepping Through the Alps: My Search for Austria’s Jewish Past With Its Last Wandering Shepherd,” has just published a hilarious essay on the Los Angeles Times Web site about his search for a mohel to circumcise his son. The setup:

I did not want just anyone to cut my son’s penis. I wanted the best. And so when my wife, Jennifer, neared the end of her pregnancy, I decided to interview mohels.

I had good reason to be nervous about ritual circumcisers. In 2004, three New York babies contracted herpes from a mohel, who, in keeping with an ultra-Orthodox Jewish tradition, used his mouth to draw blood from the wound. I had no intention of letting a mohel — or anyone else for that matter — put his mouth on my newborn son’s genitals, but the moral of the story was clear enough: If you’re going to chop off part of someone’s penis without asking permission, you’d better choose your chopper with care.

The full article is here.

The essay is a finalist in the “Be Joel Stein” contest run by the L.A. Times columnist of the same name. You can vote for your favorite (i.e. Sam Apple’s essay) here.

Full Disclosure: Sam’s a good friend of mine (but don’t hold that against him). I was even at his son’s bris.



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