Should a Nine-Year-Old Boy Be Circumcised Against His Wishes?

A divorced father converts to Judaism and wants his nine-year-old son circumcised. The mother says no way. Now what?

By Vicki Glembocki | February 2010

The Verdict
Throughout five years of deliberations—with many affidavits, briefs, and claims from both parents about their son’s wishes—the boy was never questioned, not even in a judge’s private chambers. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled that he didn’t need to wait until age 18 to make up his mind. It decided that the 14-year-old should be asked now what he wants.

Last April, at a hearing in the judge’s chambers of the Jackson County Circuit Court, the boy finally spoke for himself: He did not want to be circumcised. He also said he didn’t want to convert to Judaism, was afraid to tell his father how he felt, and was even afraid to continue living with him. It took five more months to resolve the custody issue, but finally, in September, the judge approved a settlement that James proposed and Lia accepted: The Boldts will have joint custody, with Lia as the primary parent and James receiving visitation. The main factor in their agreement: their son’s preference.

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