January 8

Contrary to Fred Ise’s assertion [“Child abuse in the garb of a rite,” letters, Jan. 4], circumcision did not originate in the period known as the Dark Ages. The commandment known as brit milah was first observed at least 1,000 years earlier.

While coverage for medical procedures is a matter between an insurance company and its policyholders, the brit milah typically is performed in a home by a trained mohel. Therefore, insurance premiums don’t typically pay for the procedure when it’s performed in such a religious context.

Finally, Mr. Ise’s comparison of circumcision to a burqa was inapt. A woman wearing a burqa is an adult. By contrast, it is widely recognized that parents are authorized to make medical decisions on behalf of their children. And the American Academy of Pediatrics has confirmed that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks.

Andrew Gross, Union City, Calif.