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Jerusalem — “The phenomenon is growing, I have no doubt,” said Ronit Tamir, who founded a support group for families who have chosen not to circumcise their sons.
“When we started the group 12 years ago we had to work hard to find 40 families … They were keeping it secret and we had to promise them we’d keep it secret,” she said. “Then, we’d get one or two phone calls a month. Nowadays I get dozens of emails and phone calls a month, hundreds a year.”
Tamir believes Jews in today’s Israel find it easier to break religious taboos.
“People are asking themselves what it means to be Jewish these days,” she said, and that leads some to question rules of all kinds, including circumcision.
In societies around the world who circumcise boys for non-religious reasons, out of habit or tradition or because of the perceived health benefits, the practice can be controversial.
Rates of circumcision in Europe are well under 20 percent, while in the United States, according to 2010 statistics cited by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than half of newborn boys continue to be circumcised.
The American Academy of Paediatrics said in August that the health benefits of infant circumcision - potentially avoiding infection, cancer and sexually-transmitted diseases - outweighed the risks, but said parents should make the final call.
But where the decision is ultimately a matter of personal choice for many families around the world, for Jews who question the tradition, it is more complicated.