Contemporary American Reform Responsa

29. Naming an Uncircumcised Child

QUESTION: May we name an uncircumcised male child in the synagogue? In this case the child was not circumcised as the mother has been influenced by current medical fashion which indicates that circumcision may not be necessary for health reasons. She fears that circumcision may actually harm the child. (Rabbi R. Raab, Wantagh, NY)

ANSWER: Let me refer you to a rather recent responsum, "The Circumcision of Infants," 1982, (American Reform Responsa) which indicates that we consider the circumcision of male infants an essential and fundamental commandment. Of course those who are not circumcised would still be considered Jews (San. 44a; David Hoffmann, Melamed Lehoil Yoreh Deah #79; C.C.A.R. Yearbook, 1890, pp.118 ff; S. B. Freehof, Reform Jewish Practice, Vol. I, p. 113; S. J. Maslin, Gates of Mitzvah, pp.118 ff). Current medical fashions are irrelevant for us as we consider circumcision to be a religious rite, not a health matter. Unless there is a serious medical problem, all male children should be circumcised on the eighth day. Circumcision remains for us as the sign of the covenant followed by Judaism since the days of Abraham, our Father.

As this boy will be raised as a Jew, the lack of circumcision will embarrass him throughout life. Furthermore, if the operation is postponed, it will only become more difficult and painful.

We urge that every effort be made to convince the parents that the boy should be circumcised. Such a youngster should not be named at a synagogue service and everything should be done to assure his circumcision.

August 1986

If needed, please consult Abbreviations used in CCAR Responsa.