The Circumcision Episode
Ep. 171: From mohels to royals, covenants to controversy, an in-depth look at the Jewish practice of brit milah
This week on Unorthodox, we’ve got a special episode dedicated to circumcision and the Jewish mitzvah known as the brit, or bris, that signifies entry into the tribe for 8-day-old Jewish males.
We talk to Dr. Emily Blake, the mohel who performed Mark’s son’s bris, about why this biblical practice has remained so central to the Jewish experience, even among the nonobservant. The folks at BimBam explain Lech Lecha, the parsha in which Abraham and God enter into the covenant that defines the Jewish people. Hayim Leiter, a rabbi and mohel in Jerusalem, tells us about Safer HaBrit, his organization that provides circumcision resources and advocates against the controversial practice known as metzitzah b’peh. Sara Fredman Aeder tells us about approaching Jewish circumcision from a scholarly perspective and, later, a personal one, and Lizzie Skurnick shares her experience weighing circumcision as a single mother by choice. Producer Noah Levinson talks with Australian medical historian Dr. Robert Darby about the speculation surrounding the British royal family’s possible circumcisions, including the role of the “royal mohel.” And finally, Cristian Uriostegui tells the story of getting circumcised his junior year in college,
The BimBam explainer was read by Emily Shapiro Katz, a Jewish educator in Beer Sheva, Israel; you can watch the animated version at bimbam.com.
We love to hear from you! Send your thoughts about this episode to [email protected] or leave a message at our listener line: 914-570-4869.
Follow Unorthodox on Twitter and Instagram and join our Facebook group to chat with the hosts and see what happens behind the scenes! Show your love for Unorthodox with our T-shirts, sweatshirts, and baby onesies. Get yours here.
This episode is brought to you by Unorthodox Wine, offering beautiful kosher wines from South Africa. Get free shipping on any order when you visit bitly.com/unorthowine.
The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List comes out March 19! Featuring the biggest names in food—Jewish and not—and recipes for some of the most beloved, polarizing, and enduring Jewish foods, it’s the perfect gift to bring to this year’s Passover seder. Preorder your copy today and you could win a $150 gift card to Russ & Daughters: To enter, forward a copy of your receipt or confirmation to [email protected].
Unorthodox is a smart, fresh, fun weekly take on Jewish news and culture hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Leibovitz. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.
- UnorthodoxSesame ShtiselEp. 354: Grover does Passover, plus Ruth Markel on trauma and grandparent alienation, and Indian comedian Zarna Garg on learning from the Jews March 23, 2023
- UnorthodoxBunny BusinessEp. 353: Hen Mazzig on fighting antisemitism online and Gabriel Said Reynolds on teaching about Islam on YouTubeMarch 16, 2023
- UnorthodoxTuning InEp. 352: Jeremy Dauber on Jewish comedy and Mel Brooks, and Clueless’ Elisa Donovan on her acting—and writing—careerMarch 9, 2023
- UnorthodoxThe Whole MegillahEp. 351: Rethinking Purim, plus a visit to Shemesh Farms in Malibu, CaliforniaMarch 2, 2023
- UnorthodoxThreading the NeedleEp. 350: Ashley McKinless and Zac Davis on Jesuitical and Lent and traveling across the JEW.S.A. to Seattle February 23, 2023
- UnorthodoxNew WaveEp. 349: David Sax on ‘The Future Is Analog’ and William Finnegan on surfing February 16, 2023
- UnorthodoxUs PeopleEp. 348: Author Gabrielle Zevin on ‘Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow’ and a spirited discussion about Netflix’s ‘You People’February 9, 2023
- UnorthodoxReading TogetherEp. 347: Bill Deresiewicz on ‘The End of Solitude’ and audiobook narrator Julia Whelan on ‘Thank You for Listening’February 2, 2023
- UnorthodoxMemories, RevisitedEp. 346: On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, stories of survival, Jewish pride, and a baby naming to rememberJanuary 26, 2023
- UnorthodoxMoving MountainsEp. 345: Rina Raphael on the dark side of the wellness industry and ‘Weird Al’ drummer Jon ‘Bermuda’ Schwartz on parody perfectionJanuary 19, 2023
- UnorthodoxHitting the RoadEp. 344: Starting our journey ‘Across the JEW.S.A.’ with a visit to Wilmington, Delaware, plus viral Yiddish singing sensation Mendel Goldman, and Jonathon Stalls on walking across the countryJanuary 12, 2023
- UnorthodoxAn Unorthodox Christmas SpectacularEp. 343: CBS’s Faith Salie, gospel musician Donald Lawrence, a Jewish mall Santa, and moreDecember 22, 2022
- UnorthodoxBright LightsEp. 342: Celebrating Hanukkah with eight inspiring stories from the Jewish worldDecember 15, 2022
- UnorthodoxWork ItEp. 341: Isabel Kaplan on her novel ‘NSFW,’ and Tabitha Soren on her photography career December 8, 2022
- UnorthodoxTough TalkersEp. 340: MSNBC anchor Katy Tur and ‘The Last Boss of Brighton’ author Douglas CenturyDecember 1, 2022
- UnorthodoxBonus: A Conversation With Tablet’s Editor-in-Chief Alana NewhouseTalking ‘Brokenism,’ America, and moreNovember 25, 2022
- UnorthodoxTruly ThankfulEp. 339: Making challah with Molly Yeh, Michael Twitty on ‘Koshersoul’ cooking, and Shannon Sarna on ‘Modern Jewish Comfort Food’November 24, 2022
- UnorthodoxBuilding Bridges Ep. 338: Actor Eric Ladin on ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ and Jewish summer camp, interfaith leader Eboo Patel on embracing religious diversityNovember 17, 2022