đHgeocities.com/candlemaker_kaprov/chapter08.htmlgeocities.com/candlemaker_kaprov/chapter08.htmldelayedx-zŐJ˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙Č ę˘×'OKtext/htmlP“ŚŃç×'˙˙˙˙b‰.HSun, 24 Aug 2008 15:55:53 GMT¸Mozilla/4.5 (compatible; HTTrack 3.0x; Windows 98)en, *,zŐJ×' The B'nai Khaim in America
Chapter 8 - Circumcision, Shivoh and Other Jewish Rites and Rituals 
    Among the most ancient and hallowed commandments which 
Jews are called upon to observe are the rite of circumcision and 
the injunction against marrying a non-Jew. 
         This is my covenant (the Lord said to Abraham) which ye 
      shall keep, between me and between you, and between thy 
      seed after thee ... Every man-child among you shall be 
      circumcized ... at eight days old. (Genesis, XVII: 10-12.) 

    A man is a Jew because he was circimcized as an infant in 
accordance with established ritual. (See note #1) Part of this ritual is the 
requirement that the circumcisor himself has been circumcized, 
is a Jew, traditionally called a mohel. (See note #2) In recent years it has 
become common for the attending physician to circumcize infants 
of all faiths in the hospital. To be valid for Jewish infants, 
obviously, the physician must be a Jew, and the rite, health 
permitting, must be performed on the eighth day of the child's 
birth and, t~aditionally, in the presence of a minyon. (See note #3)
    Related to the observance of the rite of circumcision is the 
injuction against marrying out of the Jewish faith. If a gentile 
wishes to marry a Jewess he must first undergo circumcision; (See note #4) a 
female gentile must convert to Judaism if she wishes to marry a 
Jew. Else, the seed of Abraham will be rendered impure. 
    With respect to circumcision, we asked this question: 
        Did you (or would you) have your sons circumcised by 
              (a) a mohel?
              (b) a physician without the attending rituals?
              (c) a physician, with the rituals? 
    The answers are given in Table 6. 

    Two things stand out in these answers.
    1. As many as 127 of the 211 B'nai Khaim and spouses, or 
       60 per cent, did or would use a malle! to circumcise their 
    2. The drift away from the mohel among the native-born. 
       Eighty-one of our 211, or nearly 40 per cent, did or 
       would have a physician perform the circumcision: 28 per 
       cent of the foreign-born, 48 per cent of the native-born. 
       The second generation tends to relegate the mohel to 
       history. Furthermore, three-and-one-half times as many of 
       them would have the physician perform the rite without 
       the traditional ritual as with it. In two cases a family 
       shifted from a mohel to a physician. One foreign-born 
       B'nai Khaim male said that he would not have his son 
       circumcised at all. Here, then, is another instance of the
       gradual erosion of Jewish religious tradition as we move 
       from the first to the second generation. 

Percentage of those who would use a physician:

Foreign-born males                         35
Native-born males                          50

Foreign-born females                       23
Native-born females                        47

    As in previous tests, we also note here that B'nai Khaim 
females are more scrupulous in following family tradition 
than the males. Of the 49 B'nai Khaim males listed in the table, 
foreign- and native-born, 21, or nearly 43 percent, inclined 
toward using a physician, but less than 37 per cent of the 
females were so inclined.
    We inquired next into the observance by the B'nai Khaim of 
several other common rituals: 
    1. Do you have a mezuzahs (See note #5) in your home?
    2. Do you sit shivoh? (See note #6)
    3. Did you (or would you) have 
       a. Bar Mitzvah for your sons? 
       b. Bat Mitzvah for your daughters? 
       c. "Confirmation" for either, instead? 

    And of the males only, we asked: 

    1. Do you pray daily with talis and tefilim? 
    2. Do you light Khanukah candles? 
    3. Do you "say Kaddish?" 

Table 7 lists the answers.

    From our earlier findings we had come to expect that the 
religious observances of our people tended to weaken, and 
those, you recall, applied to the major commandments. Here we 
find that, in the case of apparently minor commandments, the 
rate of observance is fairly high. Despite the clearly superstitious 
character of the mezuzah, a form of primitive magic, 
nearly two-thirds of our people report having one in their 
homes, with, as would be expected, smaller percentages (58) for 
the native-born than for the foreign-born (73). Again, the 
females showed themselves to be more tradition-minded than 
the males. The males split 50-50 on having a mezuzah; the 
females split 75 per cent "yes" to 25 per cent "no." One 
native-born B'nai Khaim male who answered "no" to the 
question added "my wife has one." 
    In general, "sitting shivoh" shows about the same degree of 
observance as having a mezuzah. Here the relatively greater 
proportion of "yes" responses from the females is probably due 
mainly to the fact that the men-folk are reluctant to take time 
off from work seven consecutive days to mourn at home. The 
women-folk need only adjust their housework to fit the 
occasion. And, as we already know, our women are more 
"religious-minded" than our men. The shift away, however, of 
the rate of observance between the foreign-born and the native­born 
persists here as in previous cases, although not to the same 
   Bar Mitzvah holds an especially favorable place in the hearts 
of the B'nai Khaim. Originally a simple service at the synagogue 
at which a Jewish boy on his 13th birthday takes on the religious 
obligations of a man by invoking God's blessings while 
reading a passage in the Torah, it has become in affluent 
America largely a festive occasion in which relatives and neighbors 
and even gentile friends join. Nearly three-fourths of our 
respondents reported Bar Mitzvahs for their sons, but we know 
that not much more than about 50 per cent could have received 
the preparation required for a formal Bar Mitzvah. (See Chapter 5.)
   Seventy-five Bat Mitzvahs and 71 "confirmations" were reported 
in this connection. "Confirmation" is a practice borrowed 
from the Reform Temple and mayor may not involve 
formal Bar Mitzvah. Bat Mitzvah is a family celebration of the 
14th birthday of a daughter. Sokolievka did not know 
"confirmation," let alone Bat Mitzvah. 
   Sixty-eight of our 101 B'nai Khaim males and husbands of 
B'nai Khaim females light Khanukah candles. Remarkably, a 
larger proportion of native-born (76 per cent) than of foreign­born 
(56 per cent) light Khanukah candles. This is a reversal of 
the tendencies toward lesser observances by the native-born in 
all the other cases we have analyzed thus far. The present 
experience may signify an attempt by the "American" B'nai Khaim 
families to counteract the impact on their children of 
their neighbors' Christmas trees and Christmas presents. We 
treat of this question again later. 
    About half of our men "say Kaddish" (prayer for the dead). 
But less than ten per cent attend to daily prayers with talis and 
tefilim. Daily prayer is going the way of the beard. 
    As observing Jews, then, the B'nai Khaim and their spouses 
can be divided into three different classes. There is the relatively 
small and contracting core of strict observers. There is the somewhat 
larger and expanding core of non-observers. And there is a 
main core of semi-observers, half-clinging to the past, 
half­inclining in new directions away from the past. The speed of 
diversion between these two tendencies should, perhaps, be 
made clearer in our study in the next chapter of the B'nai Khaim 
attitude toward intermarriage. 

Notes to Chapter 8

(1) Prior to obedience to all specific commandments is the acceptance of 
    Jehova as the one and only God, Creator of the Universe: "Sh'ma Israel"
    ... Hear 0 Israel, the Lord is thy God-the Lord is One.
(2) In an emergency a Jewish female may perform the rite.
(3) The minimal praying congregation consisting of ten adult Jewish 
    males; by "adult" is meant any Jewish male over 13 years of age. 
(4) Not required by Reform Judaism. 
(5) A piece of parchment bearing a Biblical inscription sealed in a metal 
    casing which is nailed to the door posts as an amulet to ward off evil 
(6) Seven days of mourning for a deceased member of a family. The 
    mourners abstain from work and all pleasurable activities and those over 
    13 years of age may not leave the house. The mourners may not sleep in 
    bed nor sit on chairs; customarily wear no shoes, sit and get about in 
    stocking feet. Only the poor may engage in trade, and that only after the 
    first three days. A minyan assembles 3 times a day for prayer and for the 
    sons to say Kaddish. 
    (See Rabbi Gordon Kaprow: Customs and Ceremonies in Israel, pp. 132-33). 

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