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Marked in Your FleshCircumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America$
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Leonard B. Glick

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176742

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2005

DOI: 10.1093/019517674X.001.0001

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 “Trembling of the Hands”

 “Trembling of the Hands”

Radical Challenges in a Pivotal Century

(p.115) 5 “Trembling of the Hands”
Marked in Your Flesh

Leonard B. Glick

Oxford University Press

Nineteenth-century German Jews — their way of life transformed by modernity — debated whether circumcision was an appropriate practice for adherents of the new Jewish “enlightenment” and Reform Judaism. Samuel Holdheim was the principal spokesman for a progressive perspective, but he was strongly opposed by nearly all other rabbis, Reform and Orthodox alike. German Jewish physicians argued either for complete elimination of the practice or for medical supervision and adequate sanitary technique. A few voices were raised against circumcision in France and Italy as well, though these countries were not centers for the debate. Early German Jewish immigrants to the United States often abandoned circumcision along with much else, but some preserved the practice as one of their few ties to religious tradition.

Keywords:   Reform Judaism, German Jews, circumcision, German-Jewish physicians, Holdheim, France, German-Jewish immigrants

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