đH geocities.com /candlemaker_kaprov/chapter08.html geocities.com/candlemaker_kaprov/chapter08.html delayed x -zŐJ ˙˙˙˙ ˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙Č ę˘ ×' OK text/html P“ŚŃç ×' ˙˙˙˙ b‰.H Sun, 24 Aug 2008 15:55:53 GMT ¸ Mozilla/4.5 (compatible; HTTrack 3.0x; Windows 98) en, * ,zŐJ ×'
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 sons. 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 extent. 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 spirits. (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).