Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon is finished and now screening “Cut,” a provocative new documentary film about a traditional Jew from an Orthodox background rethinking circumcision. The film is respectful in questioning this most sacred held tradition, and Eliyahu explained at yesterday’s screening at Realbirth in Manhattan that he wanted to “allow people from different perspectives to feel comfortable watching the film.”
As is demonstrated in “Cut” through the mental gymnastics of some of the pro-circ members, an anti-circ (intact) position is often an extremely difficult, even painful, idea to most Jews. In fact, it is the more fundamentalist who appear the most honest about the disconnect between modern thinking and this ancient rite, in no small part because Ungar-Sargon made sure to have the Orthodox put their most “sophisticated foot forward.”
The personal change in the dynamics between Ungar-Sargon and his Modern Orthodox father over this issue seems an important resource as well, as it demonstrates that what appears impossible to so many Jews can perhaps, over time, evolve into greater understanding towards such a choice.
For gentiles, or at least liberal and secular Christians, this must seem like a strange and unnecessary debate. But it is different for the Jews. On the one hand, we have a foundation mitzvah, a mitzvah that was used against us throughout the ages, perhaps similar to how many Africans feel FGM is used against them today by westerners. On the other, we have, as the perennial protester Dan Strandjord points out, the issue of “basic human rights. Nothing fancy, just basic human rights.”
The release date for the film is still being “worked out.”