Natalie Portman has a Boy! Will there be a Bris?

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Natalie Portman, the Jerusalem-born Oscar winner, gave birth to a bouncing baby boy on June 14. The boy’s name hasn’t been announced and the suspicion is that, in keeping with Jewish tradition, she won’t name him until 8 days after his birth. So the question is, will she and the father, Benjamin Millepied, who isn’t Jewish, opt to have the child circumcised? I guess we’ll know soon enough if the boy will join the Abrahamic covenant and follow in the unbroken footsteps of all his ancestors or if the couple will choose instead to not circumcise the boy and opt for the made-up, kumbaya style Brit Shalom. In a Brit Shalom, a naming ceremony takes place and the boy’s foreskin remains intact, thus cutting him off from his ancestors and condemning him to a lifetime of smegma.

But yeah, let’s not go down that road. I’ll just wish Natalie a Mazel Tov! In 2006, Portman told YNet “A priority for me is definitely that I’d like to raise my kids Jewish, but the ultimate thing is to have someone who is a good person and a partner.” Can Portman have both? I’m guessing yes given that she’s the Oscar winning actress in the relationship and non-Jewish Benjamin is just some French dancer.

Founder of Jewlicious? Publisher? Man I hate titles. I coined the name Jewlicious and I slave over the site. I live in Jerusalem and I need to get some breakfast.

14 Comments

  1. bentzion

    6/17/2011 at 6:39 pm

    hey there!

    mazal-tov to Natalie. Why do people like the writer of this blurb have to be so negative and judgmental? It really hurts me to see a Jew write so hurtfully….”She;s the Oscar winning actress in the realtionship and he’s just some FRench dancer?” Who is the writer to judge based on the fact that he’s a dancer? So what is he’s just a dancer? Who are you to be so spuerficial in your judgment of her husband? This is someone who she presumably loves and has chosen to have a child with? Have some respect for others…and that respect will come back to you. Please in the future try to see the good in others. Anne Frank wrote something to the effect that “in spite of everything I believe that man is good inside”. I mean did she give up her life so that writers like you can be so snippy. I think not! Blessings that you get back in touch with your soul and goodness of your soul!

  2. sfdsafs

    6/18/2011 at 11:00 am

    having smegma is better than having old jewish men mutilate your penis and sacrifice your foreskin to god

    • psIsaac

      6/25/2011 at 1:01 am

      EXACTLY!

  3. Rabbi Yonah

    6/19/2011 at 2:41 am

    Mr. SFDSAFS

    Thank you for your anti-semitism. Young or old, a mohel is doing the work that the Father is supposed to do. The commandment is for the the boys Father to perform the circumcision. And we are not sacrificing anything to God, sorry that is total misinformation. The removal of foreskin creates a connection between God and the baby, a two way relationship.

    • froylein

      6/19/2011 at 3:32 am

      I’m not so certain about the sacrifice issue as circumcision is / was brought up in place of human sacrifice and the “blood covenant”, so to speak, is a recurring image in Biblical narrative in the context of sacrifice. It’s preferable to human sacrifice, I suppose, but to reduce it to a symbolic gesture ignores several millennia of a tradition that received it differently. Besides, symbols in religion are ways to relate transcendental matters to the immanent world (literally, “symbol” is a verbum compositum meaning “bringing images together” – “separating images from another” would be “diabolic”); as they are man’s way of explaining what cannot be quite conveyed through words, they are man-made and subject to change as the understanding changes. In joining a covenant, no different than in any personal contract, you do sacrifice certain elements of personal liberties and choices in turn for some gain.
      Reducing religious acts to a symbol (or rather: re-interpreting them) is a way of reading that stems from the 15th century CE. There’d never have been Protestantism if not for the struggle over perceiving certain acts as “symbols” (Protestant view) or “actual interaction between god and his people” (Catholic view, hence the seven sacraments among Catholics as opposed to two, yet highly debated, sacraments among protestants). I know there is little awareness of it, but American Judaism and in turn much of the world’s non-ultra-ultra-Orthodox Jewish understanding has been tainted by American Protestantism.

      People have always made sacrifices for things they strongly believe in. To quote an old prof of mine, “Nobody opts to die for a myth.” I need not share anybody’s beliefs and convictions to understand that, sfdsafs. The issue with circumcision is the questions whose rights / convictions weigh more – those of a person to remain intact until they’re in a position to choose differently, those of the parents firmly believing they’re sealing a contract with god for the child’s positive gain and marking their willingness to do their share in continuing the tradition, or those of the parents wishing to continue a tradition through a symbolic act. The last point is rather unconvincing; if the belief is not there, circumcision won’t save it.

      So sfdsafs, in response to you, religious Jews have followed this practice for a long time not because of “just tradition”, so to speak, but because of the heartfelt belief that this act will make their child part of a covenant with god that the child will benefit from. You may disagree with this all you like, but you cannot argue beliefs. The circumcision of a boy means more than a symbolic gesture to religious Jews; you may argue with those to who it is nothing but a symbol, but ck isn’t on of them.

      Oh, and CK, look at Natalie. I bet a cheesecake that not all her ancestors practised circumcision. ;)

      However, congratulations to Ms Portman. Let’s wish that the child will grow to be safe, happy and healthy – a way to truly receive the covenant as that is what it’s supposed to be for. Do not elevate the symbol over its meaning; if the meaning isn’t understood, the symbol is lost.

  4. Chris

    6/22/2011 at 1:01 am

    I want to first congratulate Natalie on becoming a mom! I believe she should devote time to breast feed her baby. Her life will benefit from it. Her baby is her pass to a better future. I also think, that she should wisely decide to honor her family’s faith. With all this media controversey, (about the movies and even the bris) maybe the baby should go to a Jewish school and maybe consider becoming a rabbi. The baby will grow up safe and live a long, healthy life surrounded by love which will be shared with every one. I know another rabbi in the family.

  5. Chris

    6/22/2011 at 1:46 pm

    Sadly, Natalie is no different than any other celebrity. The typical life progression of a star always climaxes at some point and is followed by a decline in popularity. Some stars rise higher than others, but some end up on the streets. The key for the person is to enjoy life, not to make wrong decisions along the way, and not to over saturate the media. Natalie has just had too much success to expect it to continue indefinately. One thing going for her is that she was a child when she did her first movie. This might be detrimental as time goes by because she may become too big headed. Has her career climaxed and is she due to slowly enter the decline phase at this time. For example, did she enter into a celebrity marriage too soon, did she choose the right person, are they truely in love, and can she manage her baby and career. I do not know. I can only wish the best for her. She needs a rest of some type so that she can think about her life and future.

  6. Alef Bet Jewelry

    6/24/2011 at 1:09 pm

    Another celebrity with a baby! Yea. I had three kids, didn’t see anyone writing about me. I just had to throw it in there. Always a great big mazel tov to a new parent. Wishing you much happiness with your new baby and that he is healthy. That is the blessing we all wish for newborns, health and happiness.

  7. Chris

    7/31/2011 at 12:28 pm

    The Weekly Schmooze: I’m on a boat!
    By LAHAV HARKOV
    07/07/2011 13:37

    Now Natalie Portman has added a name to the list. Two weeks ago, at her son’s bris, the baby’s name was announced: Aleph Portman-Millepied.

    jpost.com/Feat...

  8. Jon

    8/7/2012 at 7:23 pm

    “In a Brit Shalom, a naming ceremony takes place and the boy’s foreskin remains intact, thus cutting him off from his ancestors and condemning him to a lifetime of smegma.”

    - Condemned to a lifetime of smegma? What an ignorant, pathetic excuse to mutilate the genitals of a helpless child. Female genitals produce even more smegma than intact male genitals do. Genital hygiene for females is even more laborious than it is for intact males. Why isn’t the author of this article vilifying intact female genitals as he’s vilifying intact male genitals? All males are born with their foreskin because they’re meant to have it. The foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis and it serves numerous beneficial functions. It’s wrong to forcefully deprive males of that. Babies have died from circumcision, including Jewish babies. It’s wrong to put the lives of babies at risk for a surgery that’s purely cosmetic and completely needless.

    Jews developed the Brit Shalom because there are Jewish men who greatly resent their circumcision and know from personal experience it’s wrong to force this onto those who didn’t choose it for themselves.

  9. Jon

    8/7/2012 at 7:27 pm

    jewsagainstcircumcision.com

    jewishcircumcision.org

    jewsfortherightsofthechild.org

  10. J

    8/11/2012 at 6:30 pm

    I hope she respected her son enough to leave him whole. She is Jewish, but an atheist after all. Hopefully she doesn’t see the logic in a blood sacrifice in the 21st century. I’m of Jewish decent and would never let an ancient sacrifice of my ancestors dictate the look of my sons genitals or cause him horrific violent pain. Circumcision isn’t medically recommended afterall. I know first hand there’s nothing wrong with foreskin and a normal penis.

    • ck

      8/12/2012 at 7:24 am

      Heh. I know she respected her son and her ancestors enough to bring him into the Abrahamic covenant and nip off that foreskin! Look, you do what you like with your penis and the penises of your children. My children and those of other good Jews will always be circumcised. We will lead lives free of smegma and reduced incidences of HIV and prostate cancer. But more importantly, we will be honoring a tradition that has defined us as a people for over 5000 years. Had my parents NOT circumcised me, I’d resent them forever. So again, you do what you like. I’m not even going to debate you on this. No one is ever going to stop the Jews from practicing their faith as they have for 1000s of years. Tough luck, it ain’t gonna happen.

      • Heidi

        2/25/2013 at 1:04 am

        CK, and you have the right to continue to delude yourself that what you’re saying is acutally acceptable and valid. I can assure you, it is neither. Just because something has been done for ages doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t mean it couldn’t or shouldn’t be changed or ceased. If you love your God so much, don’t you think for a moment it might be offended that pompous religious figures teach its flock that God’s creation is imperfect and, in fact, requires human improvement? This may be going over your exposed, unprotected head, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

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