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IOTM – Lisa Braver Moss and Rebecca Wald

JULY 2014: As the anti-circumcision movement grows and people realize the importance of respecting children’s rights to genital integrity, activists who speak out in favor of alternative religious and cultural practices become a critical component of social change.

Two such activists are Lisa Braver Moss and Rebecca Wald, both of whom have been speaking out for years against infant circumcision, and also its role within Jewish culture. They have recently come together to write Celebrating Brit Shalom, the first-ever book devoted to the peaceful alternative to Jewish circumcision. They’re funding its publication via Kickstarter, and with your help, this book can become a reality.

Brit Shalom, Hebrew for “covenant of peace,” is a joyous, welcoming ritual for Jewish newborn boys whose parents are opting out of circumcision (or “bris”). The book, which will be part handbook, part prayer book, and part keepsake, will show how a Brit Shalom is the perfect way for families to gather together on the eighth day after a boy’s birth and welcome him, without cutting, into the ancient Abrahamic covenant — as has been done for millennia.

Jewish circumcision accounts for a very small percentage of worldwide genital cutting—probably less than 1%. However, there can be no doubt that the practice has been influential beyond its actual scope. “One of our goals for Celebrating Brit Shalom is to get it into the hands of as many rabbis and synagogue libraries as possible,” Lisa and Rebecca explain. “Our Kickstarter campaign has two reward tiers to help accomplish this. For a pledge of $20, we’ll send a book to a rabbi or synagogue; a $75 pledge allows us to send four books out. Most people who want to help us aren’t parents planning to hold a brit shalom—many aren’t even Jewish. Now, backers can opt to have a book go to where it’s truly needed.” They also plan to translate the book into Hebrew, but first they’re focused on raising the funds to get the book published. They’ve raised about half of their goal so far, and now they’re turning to the intactivist community for support.

Lisa Braver Moss is a writer specializing in family issues, health, Judaism and humor. She is the author of The Measure of His Grief (Notim Press, 2010), the first novel ever written about Jewish circumcision or foreskin restoration. Lisa was a speaker at the Second International Symposium on Circumcision and will be presenting at this summer’s Symposium. Lisa’s work has appeared in The Huffington Post, Tikkun, Parents and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications.
Lisa Braver Moss

Rebecca Wald is the publisher of Beyond the Bris, a news and opinion website about the Jewish movement to question infant circumcision. Rebecca’s activism has been written about in outlets worldwide, among them The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Village Voice, Tikkun, The Jewish Daily Forward, Haaretz, and The Times of Israel. Rebecca is a graduate of George Washington University and Brooklyn Law School.

Rebecca Wald

Both Lisa and Rebecca are staunch allies of Intact America. “Intact America calls attention to the basic fallacy of the pro-circumcision lobby,” says Lisa, “which seems to have forgotten that physicians must not remove healthy tissue just to avoid the possibility of problems arising in the future.” Says Rebecca, “Intact America serves to unite the growing chorus of voices speaking out against the irrationality of infant circumcision. I hope it continues to thrive in its mission to thoughtfully expose the harm of this painful and damaging procedure.”

”The message about Brit Shalom must be spread far and wide,” says Georganne Chapin, Executive Director of Intact America. “These two talented women – who are equally committed to Judaism and to the movement against the forced cutting of babies, regardless of its justification – are uniquely situated to make a serious difference, showing that it is possible, simultaneously, to adhere to the Jewish faith, raise one’s sons and daughters in the Jewish faith, and eschew the harmful practice of circumcision.”

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Marilyn Fayre Milos, multiple award winner for her humanitarian work to end routine infant circumcision in the United States and advocating for the rights of infants and children to genital autonomy, has written a warm and compelling memoir of her path to becoming “the founding mother of the intactivist movement.” Needing to support her family as a single mother in the early sixties, Milos taught banjo—having learned to play from Jerry Garcia (later of The Grateful Dead)—and worked as an assistant to comedian and social critic Lenny Bruce, typing out the content of his shows and transcribing court proceedings of his trials for obscenity. After Lenny’s death, she found her voice as an activist as part of the counterculture revolution, living in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco during the 1967 Summer of Love, and honed her organizational skills by creating an alternative education open classroom (still operating) in Marin County. 

After witnessing the pain and trauma of the circumcision of a newborn baby boy when she was a nursing student at Marin College, Milos learned everything she could about why infants were subjected to such brutal surgery. The more she read and discovered, the more convinced she became that circumcision had no medical benefits. As a nurse on the obstetrical unit at Marin General Hospital, she committed to making sure parents understood what circumcision entailed before signing a consent form. Considered an agitator and forced to resign in 1985, she co-founded NOCIRC (National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers) and began organizing international symposia on circumcision, genital autonomy, and human rights. Milos edited and published the proceedings from the above-mentioned symposia and has written numerous articles in her quest to end circumcision and protect children’s bodily integrity. She currently serves on the board of directors of Intact America.


Georganne Chapin is a healthcare expert, attorney, social justice advocate, and founding executive director of Intact America, the nation’s most influential organization opposing the U.S. medical industry’s penchant for surgically altering the genitals of male children (“circumcision”). Under her leadership, Intact America has definitively documented tactics used by U.S. doctors and healthcare facilities to pathologize the male foreskin, pressure parents into circumcising their sons, and forcibly retract the foreskins of intact boys, creating potentially lifelong, iatrogenic harm. 

Chapin holds a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College, and a Master’s degree in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. For 25 years, she served as president and chief executive officer of Hudson Health Plan, a nonprofit Medicaid insurer in New York’s Hudson Valley. Mid-career, she enrolled in an evening law program, where she explored the legal and ethical issues underlying routine male circumcision, a subject that had interested her since witnessing the aftermath of the surgery conducted on her younger brother. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Pace University School of Law in 2003, and was subsequently admitted to the New York Bar. As an adjunct professor, she taught Bioethics and Medicaid and Disability Law at Pace, and Bioethics in Dominican College’s doctoral program for advanced practice nurses.

In 2004, Chapin founded the nonprofit Hudson Center for Health Equity and Quality, a company that designs software and provides consulting services designed to reduce administrative complexities, streamline and integrate data collection and reporting, and enhance access to care for those in need. In 2008, she co-founded Intact America.

Chapin has published many articles and op-ed essays, and has been interviewed on local, national and international television, radio and podcasts about ways the U.S. healthcare system prioritizes profits over people’s basic needs. She cites routine (nontherapeutic) infant circumcision as a prime example of a practice that wastes money and harms boys and the men they will become. This Penis Business: A Memoir is her first book.