Has the Pandemic Led to Fewer Ritual Circumcisions?

Speaking with several mohels about how the coronavirus has affected their work, Menachem Wecker found that the answers vary:

Avraham Rappaport, an Orthodox rabbi who also runs a Columbia, Maryland, financial-services company, typically performed five to seven circumcisions a week. Since mid-March, that number has soared to ten to fifteen weekly, which he believes is mostly due to restrictions on elective surgery related to the coronavirus pandemic.

But other mohels have different experiences. April Rubin, a Washington, DC-based obstetrician and gynecologist who trained as a mohelet in the Conservative movement, has seen relatively constant volume in the past three months. . . . “I am aware of several couples who have chosen to forgo the traditional ceremony and opt instead for a medical circumcision in the hospital prior to discharge after birth,” she said.

Eliezer Lawrence, an Orthodox rabbi and also a Manhattan mohel, and dozens of colleagues worldwide in a mohel group of which he is a part, have seen a reduction in circumcisions of late. In Lawrence’s view, some families have forgone a bris for a secular circumcision in the hospital to avoid the risk of having a mohel come to the house. “It is one of the last almost universally practiced things of the Jewish people,” he said. “We mark a generation of catastrophe in Judaism by the number who went uncircumcised.”

Read more at Religion News Service

More about: American Judaism, Circumcision, Coronavirus

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy