Rabbi G. Rayzel Raphael

A Ritual for Breast Reduction


Earlier this year a friend asked me to create a new ritual for her upcoming surgery. What came to mind immediately is that God is sometimes referred to as El Shaddai, the Breasted God (shaddayim is the Hebrew word for breasts). And in our Torah we already have a ritual for removing something from the body that is unwanted— circumcision for males. It may sound strange to use this male-specific ritual template for a woman’s breast reduction. But while as a feminist I have wrestled with this rite, the circumcision of my son was one of the more powerful Jewish moments in my life. It was a test of faith and commitment, and is a sign of the covenant with God. Creating this ritual for my friend actually put ritual male circumcision in a new light for me as well.

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