The 8th Day: Examining Circumcision

Reviewed Publisher: 
53 minutes, VHS in both NTSC and PAL formats. Available from Birthing The Future, Bayfield, CO. Tel. 970884-4090, or see www.BirthingTheFuture.com.
Reviewed Title: 
The 8th Day: Examining Circumcision. (2001)
Reviewed Author: 

This documentary is an enormously important, soul-searching voice in today's heated debate over newborn circumcision, an age-old practice that persists in the United States despite there being no valid scientific evidence to justify it. The video follows three couples with differing beliefs about circumcision as they struggle to reconcile tradition (at least one of the members of the couple is Jewish in each family) and family pressure with ethics and parental instincts regarding the circumcision of their newborn sons. One partner in each couple is seriously questioning the necessity of circumcision. We see the dynamics that such differences create in a marriage and discover along with them the unexpected consequences such choices bring. One couple decides to do a traditional bris, the Jewish circumcision ceremony, another creates an alternative form of bris, and the third makes a slightly different decision.

We also hear from various "professionals" regarding the lightness or wrongness of performing newborn circumcision today. A prominent U.S. physician, who happens to be Jewish, speaks to us about the risks and negative consequences of circumcision for all babies. A medical historian recounts the ancient history of this form of circumcision. We also hear from the couples' extended family members, aunts and grandparents living in the U.S. and abroad, a rabbi, and from a mohel, a rabbi that specializes in performing circumcision on the eighth day after birth. Each person states strong views about circumcision, along with whatever rationale they have created to support doing it or not doing it. The only individual we do not hear from is the person most affected by it: the boy himself. However, we do hear from adult males who were circumcised at birth, and we see and hear newborn boys as they go through their personal experience of circumcision.

This production is suitable for adults, older teens and college students, as well as for professionals and students in the fields of health care, psychotherapy and healing, education and the social services. The fact that it focuses on babies born to parents some of whom are Jewish does not limit its audience. Women and men from widely divergent backgrounds find this film fascinating and powerful. And because the impact of circumcision is life long, it is particularly important that prospective parents get a chance to consider the issues and implications of their choice before having a baby. This film is beautifully shot, well-edited, and emotionally provocative.

Publication Date: 
10/2002