Foreskin Burial

Background: Informant is a 19 year old, Jewish American college student from New Hampshire. They shared this story about their family and how it relates to their Jewish tradition and culture. The informant has been through Jewish education and experiences the holidays every year.

Informant: So, in Jewish mysticism and some spiritual mysticism more broadly, there’s a tradition in which foreskin of a child, of a newborn is buried next to a forefather. So, when my cousin gave birth to her child not really sure… second cousin once removed I believe? They flew from Florida to Massachusetts to bury the foreskin next to my grandfather. It had something to do with the wellbeing of the child and honoring the forefather.

Me: Can you tell me a little bit about the Jewish tradition of circumcision? What does it symbolize?

Informant: The bris is 8 days after a boy is born, male assigned at birth, if you will. It has a relationship to the lilith which is a separate story, but it’s one of the ways to protect from the lilith. Their foreskin’s cut off, not really sure why. I actually have no idea why. I just know it’s a tradition. 

Reflection: This tradition was really fun to hear as it’s obviously a kind of bizarre idea to those who aren’t within the culture. However, it was so enjoyable to hear the informant give their account of the tradition, and you could hear in the tone of their voice how they felt. This experience gives us an idea of how multiple cultures can exist within one person. In this example, the informant had a bit of shame surrounding the tradition as it would be frowned upon in Western culture. However, there is also a sense of pride in their culture as they describe it’s significance.