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More data on the circumcision debate

I have never felt that Jewish law or ritual should be subjected to the scrutiny of science. While it is always nice when science decides to support Jewish practice, rituals were put into place for the sake of spiritual enhancement more than any pragmatic reasons. Nevertheless, it is important to note the contributions of science to any debate, especially when it can help in sensitive areas. Thus, it was gratifying to see that the New York City Health Department has decided to promote circumcision among men, especially those at risk for AIDS. While this may not be a motivator for the majority of those who approach the question of circumcision, especially in regard to the question of whether or not it should be a prerequisite for conversion to Judaism, it is important to note, nonetheless. For example, according to the New York Times, in three recent clinical trials in Africa, circumcision was shown to lower a man’s risk of contracting the AIDS virus from heterosexual sex by about 60 percent. This is among the many motivating factors which has persuaded New York to follow the lead of the World Health Organization’s efforts to promote circumcision among men. (Only 65% of male babies are circumcised in the United States at present.)



1 Comment

  1. As a biomedical scientist, I think that there are still many questions about the medical benefits of circumcision. A definite plus in the case of prevention of HIV infection, but possibly even other areas. In any event, even if in relation to other benefits the jury is still out, well, like chicken soup it doesn’t hurt. (Well, eventually.)

    Comment by Joel — April 18, 2007 @ 8:15 am

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