Close this search box.


Soviet Jews Treasure Rite of Circumcision

The following report was released in in honor of our historical milsetone of reaching 10,000 circumcisions. It was syndicated by Associated Press in papers throughout continental U.S.

Click here to see pictures of the event

The following is a partial listing of papers that reported this story: Times Herald (Port Huron, MI); News Review (Petoskey, MI); Item (Port Chester, NY); Citizen Register (Ossining, NY); Standard-Star (New Rochelle, NY); FACTS (Redlands, CA); Post-Bulletin (Rochester, MN); Benton County Daily Record (Bentonville, AR); Reporter Herald (Loveland, CO); on April 20 1993. In Reporter Dispatch (White plains, NY); Herald Statesman (Yonkers, NY); Times (Pawtucket, RI); Argus (Mt. Vernon, NY); News (Tarrytown, NY); Putnam Reporter Dispatch (White Plains, NY); Times (Mamaroneck, NY); Star (Peekskill, NY) on April 19, 1993.

NEW YORK – Sachar Broniwezky, at 57, underwent a ritual that should have occurred when he was 8 days old.

He and about 10,000 other men and boys who have immigrated to New York City from the former Soviet bloc have belatedly acquired a mark of the Jewish faith their parents dared not give them under communism – circumcision.

Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe, founded by two Russian brothers who are also Orthodox rabbis, arranged the circumcisions, as it has been doing since 1968.

“My grandson was born four months ago and he was circumcised,” Broniwezky said. “I said, ‘For shame, he is a Jew, and I am still a goy (Yiddish for non-Jew).’ It was time for me.”

So Broniwezky, who emigrated from Ukraine 11 years ago, entered a Brooklyn hospital operating room to fulfill God’s commandment to Abraham in Genesis: “Every male among you shall be circumcised…and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He that is 8 days old among you shall be circumcised.”

“I was 57 years and 8 days old!” the Brooklyn coin laundry owner said with a laugh.

About 75 percent of male infants in the U.S. are circumcised; removal of the foreskin is routine in many hospitals. But in most countries, only those who are Jewish, Muslim or a few other faiths are circumcised.

When Broniwezky was born, Soviet hospitals would not perform religious circumcisions, and “mohels” – Jewish ritual surgeons – could be arrested for performing a bris, a ritual circumcision.

Since the fall of communism, Russian authorities have allowed citizens to practice their religion, but there is a big backlog of Jews who haven’t undergone circumcision. And others are reluctant to undergo the rite.

“I didn’t want to have them circumcised, because there was a feeling of anti-Semitism and they were going to kindergarten,” said Milka Kolker, whose two sons were circumcised the same week Broniwezky was.

Thank You

Successfully Processed your Donation