Mohelet Mo' Problems
The JTA wonders why more women aren’t ritually slicing foreskins:
[Debra] Weiss-Ishai is one of just a few female mohels in the United States. There are about 35 Reform female mohels, and just four trained by the U.S. Conservative movement, as well as a handful who learned outside the United States.
It’s not surprising that throughout Jewish history, mohels have been men. Circumcision is, after all, a guy thing. Beyond the obvious anatomical requirements, it’s something the Torah commands a father, not a mother, to do for his son on the eighth day of life.
What is surprising, however, is that while half of all new non-Orthodox rabbis and cantors in this country are women, few women are choosing to become mohels.
Yet unlike rabbis and cantors, there is no halachic prohibition against female mohels. Every Orthodox authority consulted for this story agreed on that point, though most asked not to be quoted. Jewish law states only that if a Jewish male is present, it’s preferable that he do the brit milah.
Accompanying the piece, The JTA offers a look at a woman’s right to snip.
Of course, this raises all new implications for metzitzah b’peh.