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May 5 2014

News Roundup: The Academic Gap Between Boys and Girls is Growing

By at 1:49 pm

 All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this weekclassroom

-The learning and behavior gap between girls and boys is growing even faster than the gap between rich and poor children–with boys falling far behind. This has some scary implications for boys’ future earning potential. But the reasons for this trend are unclear. (New York Times)

-On a related topic, the number of stay-at-home dads in America is once again declining. One writer speculates the short-lived rise in hands-on dads was mostly a result of the bad job market during the recession. (Slate)

-Tennessee is a terrible place to be a pregnant woman. First the state declined to expand its healthcare program, and now women can be criminalized for their birth outcomes. It’s a catch 22. Seriously, ladies, stay the hell away from Tennessee. (Salon)

-Oops, your kid’s in high school and you’ve saved nothing for college! No worries. Here are eight great tips for giving your kid a great education on the cheap, from Ron Lieber, the New York Times’ money columnist.  (New York Times)

-Not all mohels are the same! This great new series interviews eight of America’s most popular mohels, highlighting their humor and individual styles. (JTA)

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Jun 3 2011

Monster Mohel

By at 2:06 pm

“Nothing excites Monster Mohel more than cutting into the infantile penile flesh of an eight day old boy.”

I can’t take credit for having written that. Nor can Julius Streicher, founder and publisher of Nazi propaganda vehicle Der Sturmer. No, it’s from a comic book written in San Francisco by anti-circumcision activist Matthew Hess that not a few people have deemed somewhat anti-Semitic. (He’s at the helm of a movement in San Francisco to ban circumcision.)

The comic book, Foreskin Man (I could make this stuff up, I suppose, but this is all true), sports a cover that shows a dark, bearded rabbi looming menacingly over a naked baby laying on a pool table. Fear not – a muscular blond superhero stands poised to “save” the child.

To those familiar with anti-Semitic iconography, these images are a really short step away from blood libel. I refer you to this frame of the comic, in which the “Monster Mohel” and his machine-gun carrying, payess-sporting thugs break down a door in order to circumcise a baby. Or perhaps this one, where the “Monster” tells one of his “goons” that he will forcibly carry out the circumcision. Or, finally, where the “Monster” holds the scissors menacingly over a screaming baby with sheer blood lust scrawled over his face.

When asked if his comic is anti-Semitic by the San Francisco Chronicle, Hess replied, “A lot of people have said that, but we’re not trying to be anti-Semitic. We’re trying to be pro-human rights.”

Really? Calling a mohel “Monster Mohel,” and literally making a cartoon of something I literally hold sacred, promotes human rights? Interesting – because I think that promotes denigration of those who choose to practice their religion.

As a Jew who believes in the covenant of brit milah – as well as my rights as an American to exercise religious freedom – I’ll go out on a limb and say that my human rights are not being promoted here. In fact, they’re actively being defamed, as the practice of bloodthirsty monsters.

Maybe it’s more frightening, though. Because maybe Hess isn’t trying to be anti-Semitic – maybe the anti-Semitism just comes effortlessly.

Please feel free to contact Hess here. Suggest to him that perhaps you are human too, and perhaps you deserve the benefit of discussion rather than demonization. Our tradition is rich with elements of the former – and, unfortunately, our history is woefully familiar with the latter.

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