My brother, who is almost 10 years younger than me, was circumcised in the traditional way when he was a newborn. I vividly remember seeing my mother handing him over to be taken into the men’s section of the synagogue for the operation. She went pale, clutched her stomach and said that she felt sick. There followed a period of waiting as she listened for his scream to indicate that the deed had been done.
Many of the progressive Jewish reformers of the 19th century rejected the practice of circumcision as barbaric. Even the legendary Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism and one of modern Jewry’s most iconic figures, refused to circumcise his son for this reason.