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I guess that, in the back on my mind, I always knew that some Jews got adult circumcisions (what an opening sentence!). There were always men in my synagogue who were converting, and while I assume some got a little snip while still in the hospital, some stayed “au natural.” Hey, if Abraham can do it it himself in his 90s, then I’m sure letting a mohel do it to you in your 30s isn’t the worst thing ever.
Then one time in high school, a friend of mine, born in the former Soviet Union, just casually mentioned to me that he was circumcised at age 13. Maybe I’d be able to handle that information better today, but my 16 year old self was floored. 13! That’s messed up man! I mean, totally understandable. But 13!!!
Now, comes a web series called Circumcised! about exactly that subject. Gleb Kaminer was born in Azerbaijan. And much like my friend, was only circumcised when he moved to Israel. The series tells his story.
Thank you everyone for their great support! Please stay tuned for our first webisode.
“Most Jewish boys are circumcised at eight days old. Why in the hell wasn’t I?” This is the odyssey of a man who grew up in two foreign countries and finally fulfilled his dream of becoming an American. Two eternal questions continually surface in this ten part web series: “Who are we?” and “Where do we belong?” Born in a Muslim country, to a Jewish family, and raised in a Christian-Soviet environment, Gleb is driven to ask “Who in Moses’ name am I?” In the first episode, a mandatory circumcision letter propels us into a hospital waiting room where hundreds of Russian emigrés are waiting to be “Jewed in.” In the surgery room, after eccentric doctor Rubenstein performs the operation, the ritual blessings performed by the Mohel throw young 16 year old Gleb into a panic.
Finally blessed as a true Hebrew, young Gleb embarks on another journey, that of a confused teenager, a circumcised boy, now enduring sleepless nights and taking care of his damaged shmengaley. The ritual Jewish kilt, baseball cap and warm baths all add to the metamorphosis into his new personality. As he approaches his eighteenth birthday, and begins to win the attention of the girls in his high school with his “newly cut personality,” Israel’s Draft Service comes calling. In the army, another chapter of his life opens up and he begins to experience human nature through exploring the differences between various religions and political beliefs. Upon completing the Israeli Army’s Krav Maga instructor’s course he begins teaching new recruits how to kill an enemy. Shortly, however, he realizes something profound that correlates with his own journey. William Shakespeare said it best: “‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…’ I look at my new recruits and all I see are faces from Azerbaijan: Russian-Muslim kids who were my best friends. We were kids. No nationality mattered, no religion mattered. Nothing. Pure friendship. So, here I am, an Israeli army instructor and I don’t know what to do. On one hand I have a national duty on the other my conscience. What would you do?”
Gleb meets his future wife, who isn’t Jewish, and after the city’s Rabbinate declines, they are forced to marry in Cyprus. One day, unexpectedly, another chapter in Gleb’s life opens up. He passes a newspaper stand and sees an ad for a United States Green Card lottery. Is this a joke?! He cuts out the ad and lets it decide his destiny. Six months later he receives a big envelope with two temporary green cards and a warm welcome note from the United States Government. All he can think about is what awaits him in America…