Papa and His Circumcision

by Marinka on July 22, 2011

A few months ago I asked Papa if he would write a guest post for my blog about his circumcision.  No, I don’t mean by uncovering a repressed memory.  Papa had a circumcision a few years ago, as an adult.

“You’re getting WHAT?” I remember asking him when he told me that he was going to get a procedure.

“A circumcision,” he told me. As though it were part of an annual check up. “Don’t forget to get  me a gift to congratulate me.”

It took me a little while to recover.  It turns out that there aren’t as many self-help books out there on What To Do When Your Father Gets Circumcised. 

Why did he do it?  Read on!  

I love Papa.


The topic is still  puzzling to me.

I will try to split it into the categories:

I.                   Why it was not done in the 1940s as it should have been, a few days after my birth?

Because my mother was 3rd year medical student who spent ¾ of the World Word II on the Eastern Front working as a surgical assistant 2 miles from the front line.

A few months before my birth the circumcision was a sure death sentence if a child is caught in field by the enemy soldiers.

Ukrainian or Lithuanian/Estonian nationalist were more liberal and would simply request a child to cross him self 2-3 times and if he could not, would shoot him on the spot; these guys would not even bother to check  the presence or absence of the foreskin. We are talking about 4 to 7 year old children.

I believe that Brooklyn Hasidim should start teaching their pupils how to cross themselves as part of the nature survival course.

My great grandparents who were observant Orthodox Jews and helped my mother and father to raise me respected my mother’s decision and did not argue or pressed them into the actions.

II.                Hygiene part of owning foreskin bothered me immensely during my youth and early adulthood.

Getting older did not help, because thoughts of incapacitation and not being able to keep yourself clean can be very persistent and annoying.


III.             After decision was made, it was very simple; an old friend of mine did it with local anesthesia; physical discomfort was limited to a few days. As a bonus I got a brand new Hebrew name that I picked myself.


While responding to Marinka’s e-mail I was in the dysphoric/joking mood and she understood it well. I am very happy with my decision and this was one of the best things I have done for myself.


IV.             Esthetic part of it.

An old Russian joke will explain it.


1920’s the Soviet Russia is in midst of building socialism, elderly Jew comes to visit his grandchildren in the big city.

10-year-old grandson says to him: “We are greatest country in the world. Our steel and egg production will surpass these of the Americans in 2-3 months. Why, but tell me why should you wear these strange medieval payes*?

The old man says in response: “First of all, it looks beautiful”.



* Payot (also peyot, payos, payess, peyess, peyos Hebrew: singular, פֵּאָה; plural, פֵּאוֹת‎ ) is the Hebrew word for sidelocks or sidecurls. Payot are worn by some men and boys in the Orthodox Jewish community based on an interpretation of the Biblical injunction against shaving the “corners” of one’s head. Literally, pe’ah means corner, side or edge. There are different styles of payes among Haredi, Yemenite, and Hasidic Jews.


From Marinka: I’d like to note with respect to item III, that Papa’s “old friend” is a doctor, and not just some guy he has drinks with.

One year ago ...

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Friday Links « Victacular
July 29, 2011 at 8:59 am

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison@Mama Wants This
July 22, 2011 at 10:53 am

Your Papa is awesome!!!


July 22, 2011 at 11:00 am

It makes me absolutely sick to hear about some of the things my countrymen (Lithuanians) did during war time. I am so sorry, and I hope that you don’t take their actions as representative of our people as a whole.


July 22, 2011 at 11:05 am

So, could you say, then, that the Nazis were the original intactivists?


anymommy July 22, 2011 at 11:24 am

I don’t know which floors me more in this post – the rich history, your father’s life story or his humor. Awesome.


July 22, 2011 at 11:57 am

I love that your papa did a guest for you and about being circumcised to boot. I wonder what my dad would say if I invited him to my blog.

It would be incoherent, at best……


Anthony from CharismaticKid
July 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Your blog just gets more racy the more I read it.

Makes sense about the WWII thing though.


July 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I am not sure you’re aware, Marinka, but your dad is an awesome dude.


July 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I’m so glad you added that note at the end.

Your Papa rocks! What does one ‘gift’ to someone after they’ve had a circumcision?


July 22, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Well, this is seriously interesting and your father is in the perfect position to answer a question lots of us might have. Marinka, first, you must cover your eyes and put your fingers in your ears: How has this affected sexual pleasure? One of the big arguments anti-circumcision folks use against the procedure is that sex feels better in-tact as opposed to snipped. Any validity to that?


July 25, 2011 at 1:43 am

I was dying to ask this very question!


Megan July 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Mazel tov!


DONNA July 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Ha, only on the inter net can you read about a total strangers fathers
circumcision! Love it , great story (well, except for the Lithuanian Nationalist horrible actions.)


joeinvegas July 22, 2011 at 2:51 pm

What kind of gift is appropriate for that event?

And dare you ask Moma what she thinks of it?


b a seagull
July 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I’m reading a book that describes a man, after getting kneed in the groin, as “nursing his keening plums.” Thought of the awesome dude. (can’t bring myself to say your father.)


awesome dude July 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm

I did not know it at the time, but I should have asked for Hillshire Farm sponsorship……it looks like they really know where to cut.


Amelia July 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I was not prepared for such a humerous post to affect me so deeply at the same time. I very much enjoyed this.


July 22, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Once again, Papa shines the light of common sense onto a current hot topic. Thanks, Papa!


sdl July 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I love that he reclaimed something that is part of his heritage so many years later, and that he can write about it with that sense of humor that clearly runs in the family. Strangely enough, it made me miss my not-Jewish, not-Russian father very much.


The Flying Chalupa
July 23, 2011 at 12:22 am

Best guest post, hands down. I think even Russell Crowe would agree.

I’m actually submitting this to my local hospital as part of the city’s circumcision review.


July 23, 2011 at 8:52 am

Papa needs his own blog.


erin@mommyonthespot July 23, 2011 at 8:54 am

Awesome guest post!!


July 23, 2011 at 9:05 am

He is so “it is what it is” about the whole story. Amazing. Papa needs his own blog. Or maybe a weekly posting here.


Andrea in Vermont July 23, 2011 at 11:16 am

Awesome Dude, you are. Not to mention brilliant, ridiculously funny, down-to-earth real, appropriately annoying as a loving father should be from time to time, insightful, and from this side of the screen, so full of love for your family and this crazy world of ours it just lights up my day. Religious beliefs and cultural traditions, war atrocities and history lessons, individual family histories, personal experience, pride, joy, despair, grief, laughter, reclamation and hope in those few words? Awesome, Dude.


I'm So Fancy July 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm

just wanted to tell you I’ve been following for a while now and you are definitely one of my favorite reads! Keep it coming. x


dusty earth mother July 23, 2011 at 7:53 pm

What an awesome guest post, Awesome Dude. And thank you for clarifying about the “old friend”, Marinka, I was a tad concerned.


July 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm

I love your family.


July 23, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Your papa really does need his own blog. Or he should be a regular guest poster – with a full sponsorship of course.


Sophie@Fabrications July 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Until I learn your new Hebrew name, I can’t have an opinion. It had just better not be one of the new modern Hebrew names, like Tom or Shawn, you hear me?


July 25, 2011 at 1:43 am

I’m really glad that you made that end-note, Marinka, because I was concerned!

Thanks for sharing your story Awesome Dude!


Rivki August 3, 2011 at 1:20 am

This is so sweet. Just sweet (although it’s weird to say that about a post on circumcision, but, well…).

It’s amazing what people weren’t allowed to do back in the day. We have a crazy amount of freedom here. Crazy. Thank G-d.


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