Monday, March 9, 2015


At the beginning of my third year of medical school, a guy in my class named David, who was an Orthodox Jew, had a son. He sent an email out to our class, announcing the birth and informing us of the babies upcoming Bris (ritual circumcision).

For the record, David was one of the nicest people in the class. He was one of those guys who was always making study spreadsheets and then emailing them out to everyone to help them study. He was always trying to obtain Study aids to help everyone. He was only 24, but married to a really nice woman, and had been really excited about the baby.

Anyway, a few congratulations went out, then an email went out from an anonymous address, but that had to be from a member of our class because it quoted the original email that just went out to our class.

The email was a page long rant about circumcision. The email called David a "dumb Jew" and said that if he "believed in God so much, then he wouldn't take something away that God gave the child." The person then asked if he liked the taste of the foreskin in his mouth, and concluded by saying that David and his people were the cause of most turmoil in the world, and now he is added another Jew to the world.

I think we were all completely shocked that someone would send an email like that. Somebody in our class, who we knew and worked with and studied with. Somebody who was going to be a doctor soon.

And the disturbing thing is, we never found out who it was.


  1. That's just horrible and sick. I feel bad that someone can have that much hatred. I don't care what that persons feeling on circumsion are, what he or she did is just so wrong.

  2. I felt sick reading that. Poor David what a trauma. I hope he ignored it or didn't see it.
    I hope who ever wrote that letter grew up to be a nice caring non judgemental doctor. Medical school can blurr our sense of reason I guess! And arrest social maturity.

  3. Why do people have a need to hate? How does it serve them? Does it empower them? God is present where many people are gathered together to hate? It just defies logic. Ask yourself this: If David had been an a-hole rather than a nice guy, would it have been more acceptable to hate Jews then? Of course not! It's all too common though. There's a reason why generalizations are often referred to as gross.
    - Paul

  4. Wish we knew name; that person has no business in helping professions. For the record, my son is circumcised. I had it done (by a doctor, in the hospital shortly after his birth) to match his dad and to prevent disease, for himself and his future partner. That was the thinking then, and if it has changed, well, I did the best I knew at the time.

  5. I'm shocked your Dean of Students or the Dean of your medical school didn't launch an investigation into who sent the e-mail; and that your class didn't get a lecture by them on how inappropriate such a letter was. In my school, that individual would eventually have been identified and then shown the door out - permanently.

    1. Even though the person was never officially identified, there was one person that we strongly suspected was the one who had written the email. It was a woman who had written other inflammatory emails in the past, and it sounded like the way she wrote emails. Although if it wasn't her, I feel bad that I blamed her for all these years.

  6. It may not have been another doctor. Emails are recorded and read/scanned by IT. That email may have sent off warning bells in the words of the email, been intercepted, and then someone in IT or the like sent it.

    As a patient this doesn't surprise me. The discrimination I've seen, with all due respect, is no different than any other human being. I've seen it used in giving care, you name it. Sad but until they start doing some major ferreting out in terms of psych tests and the like, this is what happens.

  7. That’s pretty awful. I have a sort-of-similar story from my medical school class that doesn’t really come close… my wife has a story of disturbing behavior from a member of her medical school class, but I don’t have a good way to anonymize that one (the guy graduated and is now a physician regardless).

    Our school had a brief course on ethics and tolerance. One aspect of the class dealt with sexual diversity, and we were given a "pre-test” inquiring about agreement and disagreement with various statements. Some of the prompts included statements like “all homosexuals are pedophiles” - things that were so ridiculous and seemingly only stated by extremists, that you’d read it and figure that everyone in the class should be selecting the same answer. Yet when the professor gave us the response breakdown, there would be one to three people who had marked agreement with those statements.

    I’d like to think that those people either marked the wrong response by mistake, or that they thought it’d be funny to give that response. I can’t remember if we knew in advance that we’d be given a breakdown of the responses, and if I remember correctly, it was an anonymous test. So, who knows… I could certainly believe that they were giving their real opinion.

    It’s pretty saddening. Physicians are people, too, but I always felt that they should ideally be the paragons of virtue. I strive to be non-judgmental in my personal life and to raise that up a notch when working with patients… but we were kept so busy with studies, and now with ongoing work (and ideally, still studying), that I guess personal development is easily forgotten.

  8. Reminds me of the story a while back of a doctor in the Southern US that refused to treat a baby because her parents were lesbians. There was a lot of push back from medical people in the comments saying that she should be allowed to select her own patients, blah blah blah. I don't disagree, persay, I just think people that archaic and judgemental shouldn't be doctors at all.

  9. Typically people like this succeed in doing more harm to themselves than they do to others. I take comfort in this quote:
    “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
    ― Gautama Buddha