May 31, 2011

URGENT! Sign the Petition: "I Stand in Coalition to Oppose a Ban on Circumcision!" (plus media advisory, supporting organizations and rabbis, and FAQ)

URGENT: RE: Proposed Criminalization of – and Ban on – Circumcision in San Francisco
Sign this Petition, email it to aporth@jcrc.org, and circulate this entire email widely!

I oppose the proposed ban and criminalization of circumcision in San Francisco. Include me in the list of coalition members who oppose this ballot initiative. I do so:

On behalf of an organization

As an individual

As an elected official

Name: __________________________________________________________________

Title: ___________________________________________________________________

Organization/Congregation: _________________________________________________

(if pledging opposition on behalf of an organization/ congregation):

Email Address ___________________________________________________________

Phone:    1. __________________________   2.________________________________

Signature: ______________________________________     Date: ____________________

Sign me up to lend support for this coalition's efforts:

I will help secure other endorsements

I will help raise money for the campaign

I will help organize online

Please email or fax this completed form to Abby Porth at aporth@jcrc.org or(415) 979-0981.

Questions? For more info contact: (415) 957-1551.

MEDIA ADVISORY                                 






Abby Michelson Porth

121 Steuart Street

San Francisco, CA  94105







May 18, 2011 … San Francisco, CA.  Today, medical professionals, legal scholars, and diverse faith community leaders expressed deep concern about and strong opposition to a San Francisco ballot measure, which would make circumcision a crime, punishable by up to a year in jail.


The United States Constitution protects the rights of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their children, including the religious decision to circumcise their infant sons.  Professor Joel Paul, Associate Dean of UC Hastings School of Law, explained "The proposed ordinance targets a well-established religious practice of Jews and Moslems and denies parents a right to make a fundamental decision about the religious upbringing of their children. The Constitution does not permit government to restrict the free exercise of religion under these circumstances without a showing of some overwhelming compelling governmental interest. In this case there is no such justification."


For thousands of years, Jews around the world have practiced this ritual, which is fundamental to the practice of Judaism.  Muslims also consider circumcision central to their faith. Federal law protects parents' rights to direct the religious upbringing and education of their children in their early and formative years. 


Maha El Genaidi, Executive Director of the Islamic Networks Group, stated "Circumcision is required for Muslim males in emulation of the Prophet Abraham. This procedure usually occurs after birth in the hospital and causes minimal pain to the infant, similar to other procedures that are routinely conducted such as immunizations for newborns. A ban that specifically targets a religious practice of Muslims and that has been proven to be medically beneficial is a violation of First Amendment Rights that guarantees all Americans the right to religious freedom."


Reverend James DeLange, Chair of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, stated "We, representing diverse communities of faith throughout San Francisco, are deeply troubled by this proposed ballot initiative.  It would turn back the clock on a right that is fundamental to the founding of this country – the right to the free exercise of religion.  People of all religions, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds have sought a new life in San Francisco to pursue religious liberty."


Reverend Amos Brown, President of the NAACP, San Francisco stated "In America, under the Constitution, we are guaranteed freedom of religion. We should not waste citizens' time and money on a measure that violates the religious choice of persons who, out of their tradition practice circumcision, and who make this choice for their children for medical and health reasons."


Commitments to Oppose Proposed Ballot Measure Banning Circumcision

(updated 5/31/11)



Local Jewish Organizations and Rabbis


1.    Jewish Community Relations Council

2.    Jewish Community Federation

3.    Anti Defamation League

4.    American Jewish Committee

5.    Jewish Study Network

6.    Meira Academy

7.    Rabbi Mona Alfi, Congregation B'nai Israel, Sacramento

8.    Rabbi Mark Bloom, Temple Beth Abraham, Oakland

9.    Rabbi Yonatan Cohen, Congregation Beth Israel, Berkeley

10. Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley

11. Rabbi Dennis J. Eisner, Peninsula Temple Beth El

12. Rabbi Micah Hyman, Congregation Beth Sholom, San Francisco

13. Rabbi Mark Melamut, Congregation B'nai Emunah, San Francisco

14. Rabbi Sydney Mintz, Congregation Emanu El, San Francisco

15. Rabbi Stephen Pearce, Congregation Emanu El, San Francisco

16. Rabbi Larry Raphael, Congregation Sherith Israel, San Francisco

17. Rabbi Joshua Strulowitz, Congregation Adath Israel, San Francisco

18. Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller, Congregation Sherith Israel, San Francisco

19. Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi, Congregation Chevra Thilim, San Francisco

20. Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club

21. Temple Beth Abraham, Oakland


Local Partners


1.    Archbishop George Niederauer, Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco

2.    Bishop Marc Andrus, Episcopal Diocese of California

3.    Bishop Mark Holmerud*, Lutheran Bishop, Sierra Pacific Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America

4.    Council on American Islamic Relations – San Francisco Bay Area

5.    David Lee, Grand Executive, Chinese American Citizens Alliance

6.    His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco

7.    Imam Abdurrahman Anwar, Yaseen Foundation

8.    Imam Ilyas Anwar, South Valley Islamic Community

9.    Imam Tahir Anwar, South Bay Islamic Association, San Jose

10. Imam Zaid Shakir*, Zaytuna College

11. Islamic Networks Group

12. Marin Interfaith Council

13. Monsignor John Talesfore, Pastor and Rector, Saint Mary's Cathedral, San Francisco

14. Muslim American Society - Bay Area 

15. Reverend Amos Brown, NAACP Bay Area, Third Baptist Church

16. Reverend David Brown, Calvary Presbyterian Church of San Francisco

17. Reverend Canon Charles P. Gibbs*, Executive Director of United Religions Initiative

18. Reverend Carol Hovis, Marin Interfaith Council

19. Reverend Jim Kitchens, Calvary Presbyterian Church of San Francisco

20. Reverend James DeLange, San Francisco Interfaith Council

21. Right Reverend William Swing, Founder and President of United Religions Initiative

22. San Francisco Interfaith Council

23. Yaseen Foundation


Public Officials


1.    Bevan Dufty, Former San Francisco Supervisor

2.    California State Senator Mark Leno

3.    California State Senator Leland Yee

4.    San Francisco City Assessor Phil Ting

5.    San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu

6.    San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen

7.    San Francisco Supervisor Sean Elsbernd

8.    San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell

9.    San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi

10. San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener


Medical and Research Authorities*


1.    Dr. Laurence Baskin, UCSF Children's Hospital, Professor and Chief of Urology and Pediatrics

2.    Dr. Martin Brotman, President, Sutter Health West Bay

3.    Dr. Sang-ick Chang, Chief Medical Officer, Alameda County Medical Center

4.    Dr. Craig Cohen, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, UC San Francisco

5.    Dr. Gary Gershony, Interventional Cardiologist, John Muir Cardiovascular Institute

6.    Dr. Carol Roberts Gerson, Physician and Mohelet

7.    Dr. Mark Glasser, Obstetrician/Gynecologist

8.    Dr. Daniel Halperin, Lecturer in Global Health, Harvard School of Public Health

9.    Dr. Robert Kahn, Urologist, Pan Pacific Urology, San Francisco

10. Dr. Brian Kaye, Rheumatologist and Internist, Berkeley

11. Dr. Brian McBeth, Department of Emergency Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital and Clinical Assistant Professor, University of California, San Francisco

12. Dr. Jeffery J. Rabinovitz, Pediatrician

13. Dr. Michael Rokeach, Chief of Medical Staff, California Pacific Medical Center

14. Jeff Spieler, Office of Population and Reproductive Health, USAID

15. Dr. Kevin Tabb, Chief Medical Officer, Stanford Hospital and Clinics

16. Dr. Lory David Wiviott, Infectious Disease Specialist, California Pacific Medical Center



Higher Education Endorsements


1.    Dr. Natalie Berg*, Trustee, San Francisco Community College Board

2.    Jeffrey Fang*, Student Trustee, San Francisco Community College Board

3.    Peter Goldstein*, Vice Chancellor, San Francisco Community College

4.    Dr. Don Griffin*, Chancellor, San Francisco Community College

5.    Professor Joel Paul, Associate Dean, UC Hastings College of Law

6.    University of San Francisco


*Affiliation for identification purposes only



National Organizations and Individuals


1.    American Jewish Committee

2.    American Islamic Fellowship of Atlanta

3.    American Muslim Voice Foundation

4.    Anti Defamation League

5.    Berit Mila Program of Reform Judaism and the National Organization of American Mohalim 

6.    B'nai B'rith International

7.    Central Conference of American Rabbis

8.    El-Tawhid Juma Circle: A Coalition of Gender-Equal/GLBTQ-Friendly Mosques in North America

9.    Foundation for Ethnic Understanding

10. Hadassah

11. Jewish Council for Public Affairs

12. Jewish Federations of North America

13. Jewish Labor Committee

14. Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

15. Jewish War Veterans of the USA

16. International Rabbinic Fellowship

17. Islamic Society of North America

18. Light of Reformation Mosque of D.C

19. Muslim Nurses Association

20. National Council of Jewish Women

21. Rabbinical Assembly

22. Rabbinical Council of America

23. Rabbi Jason Herman, New York

24. Rabbi Irwin Kula, National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership

25. Rabbi Judd E. Kruger Levingston, Philadelphia

26. Rabbi Jay Moses, New York

27. Temple Israel, Natick, Massachusetts

28. Union for Reform Judaism

29. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

30. United Muslims of America

31. United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance

32. United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism

33. Unity Mosque of Toronto


 Proposed Criminalization of – and Ban on – Circumcision in San Francisco

FAQs prepared by the Committee for Parental Choice & Religious Freedom

May 20, 2011



Q:  What does this ballot initiative say?

A:   The ballot initiative would make it unlawful and criminal to circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles, or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years. 

Q:  Is there an exception to this proposed law for the religious practice of circumcision in the Muslim and Jewish communities?

A:   No.  The initiative would make circumcision lawful only if there is a "clear, compelling, and immediate medical need with no less-destructive alternative treatment available."


Q:  What is the proposed penalty of this initiative?

A:   This initiative would criminalize performing circumcision, putting any physician or religious clergy person who performs the procedure in county jail for up to a year, and/or punished with a fine of $1,000.  The measure denies parents the right to choose, with the guidance of their physician or tradition, circumcision for their sons. 


Q:  Isn't this proposed initiative against the law?

A:   Probably.  California law prevents localities from prohibiting medical professionals from performing procedures within the scope of their profession.  In addition, there are significant Constitutional law issues with this proposed measure because it would infringe upon the right to free exercise of religion.



Q:  Isn't circumcision known to have medical benefits?

A:   Yes.  The World Health Organization reports:  "There is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%."  There are also medical reports of lower rates of penile cancer and urinary tract infections in circumcised males, and reduced cervical cancer in women whose partners are circumcised.


Q:     Why can't we ignore this as a frivolous ballot measure? 

A:      Proponents of this initiative refer to "genital cutting" and "mutilation," implying that male circumcision is analogous to female genital mutilation and hoping to conceal from voters their attempt to criminalize a widely accepted procedure. 


Q:     How is male circumcision different from female genital mutilation?

A:      Male circumcision has known and documented health benefits, and there is no credible medical evidence that male circumcision is harmful or prevents male sexual satisfaction.  Its purpose is religious and for health benefits.  In contrast, the World Health Organization states that female genital mutilation "includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons," that it "has no health benefits" and is "internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women."  Female genital mutilation is performed for the explicit purpose of preventing female sexual satisfaction. 


Q:     Who has joined in the coalition against this proposed criminalization of circumcision?

A:      Organizations and influential community leaders from across the nation, representing the medical, civil liberties, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, HIV research/advocacy, and choice communities are joining in coalition against this attack on parental choice and religious freedom.  Join us!

Q:     How do I support the coalition?

A:      Sign this Petition, email it to aporth@jcrc.org, and circulate this entire email widely!

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Congregation Netivot Shalom  || Bay Area Masorti ||  ShefaNetwork 
Rabbis for Women of the Wall  ||  menachemcreditor.org 
To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to thetisch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

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