Tuesday, December 06, 2005

31 weeks 1 day: Oy...

I met with the rabbi today, and it was a great conversation. But, he gave me so much to think about. He really encouraged me to hire a mohel for the circumcision, saying that having been at both mohel circs and OB circs, he really feels more comfortable with a mohel circ. He said babies scream less, the circumcision heals better, and that the process is over faster with a mohel, rather than an OB, who straps the baby down to a board and clamps the penis and foreskin with a plastic ring that stretches the foreskin away from the head. (I knew this, because I read it all on line when we decided to really look into this. That is why I cried so much that night. What a sacrifice Jewish people make in the first 8 days of their sons' lives).

He gave me the names of two mohels in the DC/Baltimore area, and suggested being completely up front about everything. Tell him that the baby is from my egg (apparently if the egg was from a donor who wasn't Jewish, a conversion might have to happen) and donor sperm. Tell him that my partner (and the donor) are both African-American. Tell him that we are an inter-faith couple. Tell him that we are a same-sex couple. Then let him decide his level of comfort.

The one thing he suggested that I "forget" to mention is that I am not Jewish in an Orthodox sense. My mother converted before I was born, so he suggested that I not volunteer the conversion, but if asked, say she converted "halachically" and if pressed, say it was with a Conservative rabbi and not an Orthodox one. Some mohelim, when finding that out, convert the baby to Judaism.

This is offensive to me. I am Jewish. I have been called to the torah for my bat mitzvah, I have family members who perished in the Holocaust, I have experienced anti-semitism, hatred and exclusion due to my religion. My son will not be treated as an outsider to his birthright. He is a Jew. Just like his mother, his grandfather, his great-grandparents, and the countless generations who practiced their religion in hiding to escape death at the hands of the Nazis, the pogroms, the Crusades. Just as he is African-American, and must know of the long, varied, proud and painful history of the oppression of his people based on skin color, just as he is black like his mother, his grandmother, his great-grandmother, just as his people were forced into slavery, Jim Crow institutions and inadequate education, vocation and lives. Our little boy has a lot of history to carry with him. And no one will tell him that he is not black, and no one will tell him that he is not Jewish.

The rabbi agreed that if we cannot find a mohel who will treat him as the Jewish baby that he is, that we should use our OB to do the procedure. He said, without knowing who our doctor is, that the one OB who he feels comfortable working with is ours. He actually said, "There is this delightful, older, Indian man who performs the procedures at some circumcisions for me. He is so gentle, so kind, so careful. His name is Dr...something long with a T." I smiled and said, "He is our doctor." The rabbi said, "You are in good hands."

I think I need to remember that: You are in good hands.


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