NOVEMBER 2011: As a Jewish woman, Miriam Pollack was often invited by friends to the simcha (celebration) of their sons’ brit milah ceremonies, and found them increasingly disturbing. In 1991 she attended the 2nd International Symposium on Circumcision in San Francisco, met Marilyn Milos, and spent three days listening to presentations on the anatomy and physiology of the foreskin, the history of circumcision, and the implications for maternal-infant bonding. At that point she realized that, in her words, “My entire maternal wisdom had been keening underneath the very powerful mantel of the religion and culture that I loved: Judaism”
Writing is Miriam’s primary form of activism. She has presented at numerous Genital Integrity Symposia, both in the U.S. and abroad. One of her papers was included as a chapter in Jewish Women Speak Out: Expanding the Boundaries of Psychology, edited by Kayla Weiner & Arinna Moon. She has also been featured in documentaries, including “Whose Bodies: Whose Rights?” (produced by Lawrence Dillon and Tim Hammond), and James Loewen’s recent video, “Jewish Mother on Circumcision.” Her latest article, “Circumcision: Identity, Gender and Power,” was originally published in Tikkun Magazine and was featured on the Peaceful Parenting blog.
Miriam participates in demonstrations and volunteers at informational booths at local fairs. “What is most satisfying to me,” she says, “is knowing that I have helped a number of parents, particularly Jewish parents, come to the conclusion that they can be good Jews and leave their baby intact.”
Being part of Intact America, Miriam says, is a critical part of her work. “IA is the voice and presence to the American public, continuously holding up the reality of how circumcision is a fundamental human rights violation constituting short and long term damage to an non-consenting child. Keeping this message in the public eye, challenging the medical authorities’ campaign of disinformation, and educating the public about the normalcy and importance of the foreskin are the responsibilities of IA and add considerable credibility to the work of individual intactivists.”
“Miriam is without question one of the most brilliant and sensitive writers in the intactivist movement,” says Georganne Chapin, Intact America’s Executive Director. “Her willingness to share her own personal journey as a Jewish woman who continues to grapple with the importance of faith, while deploring and opposing a fundamental ritual of that faith, is both unique and extremely moving.”