Taffy Brodesser-Akner believes that circumcision is “brutal” mutilation. So why did she subject her sons, and herself, to the traditional Jewish bris—even as she suffered “self-loathing” for what she was putting them through? She traces her Jewish upbringing, denouncement of religion, and eventual return to the faith in a thoughtful Salon column, ultimately realizing that even though she leaves room “for the idea that religion is a made-up superstition whose goal is to function in exactly the way I'm using it,” she still needs to cling to it as a parent.
“Becoming a parent is hard,” she writes. “I am sometimes overwhelmed, nearly driven mad, when I realize how much is out of my control.” And that’s why she went through with the circumcision ritual: “When I do it, I am asking God to share the responsibility with me,” she concludes. “I will give you this, God. I will hurt my sons for you, and you, in exchange, will keep us safe. Let them live. Let them be healthy. Let their lives be easy. Let me merit the chance to see my children outlive me.”