This post first appeared as “Will Prince George Face Circumcision?” on the Forward Thinking blog at the Forward.
We know his gender. We know his name. Now it’s time to move on to the next critical news item from London. I speak, of course, of the newborn HRH Prince George of Cambridge, and whether or not the little royal foreskin will be snipped.
Notwithstanding that the debate about the possibility that the new heir is actually Jewish has been put to rest, we are still left with the question as to whether his parents will opt to have him circumcised. We can be sure, however, that if they do decide to snip his tip, it will likely be a mohel, or Jewish ritual circumciser, to do it.
In the last day, the British press has been filled with articles about the relationship between the House of Windsor and circumcision. “Will William and Kate call for the rabbi?” ask the tabloid headlines, unaware that a mohel need not necessarily be a rabbi.
They ask, because historically, the male offspring of the British royal family have been circumcised. The tradition dates back to the reign of George I, who brought the custom over from his native Hanover in the early 18th century.
Prince Charles lost his foreskin as an infant back in 1948. Dr. Jacob Snowman, the then-medical officer of the Initiation Society (a sort-of guild for UK mohels), wielded the blade, as he was better trusted than a regular physician to perform the minor surgery. In fact, the royal family traditionally prefers to rely on the know-how of mohels.
“There are many people outside the Jewish community who call on them for circumcision,” Maurice Levenson, the Initiation Society’s current secretary, told The Telegraph in reference to mohels. “Their experience and expertise provides parents with a considerable degree of comfort and reassurance.”
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.