Contemporary American Reform Responsa

29. Naming an Uncircumcised


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.