Thank you for visiting my web site.

Here you will find a wealth of information about the Brit Milah (or Bris) ceremony for boys, and the Baby Naming (Simchat Bat or Zeved Habat) ceremony for girls. Much of this information is repeated in different ways throughout the web site. I hope it will give you a good sense about my philosophy and approach to these beautiful rituals.


Covid-19 and Brisses: Update: 11/16/20

I hope you and your family are safe and well. The pandemic continues, but we are closer to a vaccine and there are more therapeutics available. Mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing are still an absolute necessity. Please do not let your guard down. If everyone does their part we can get past this, but we must all work together.

I am performing Brisses throughout the tri-state area. I am pleased to see that more grandparents, aunts and uncles are now able to be part of the simcha (happy occasion). As a reminder, anyone attending a Bris should wear a mask covering their nose and mouth and I suggest that anyone holding the baby should wear gloves, as well.

If your son was circumcised in the hospital or by a doctor-mohel, he can still have a Bris and be properly entered into the Covenant of Abraham. (See below.) Also, it is very important to determine beforehand that the hospital or doctor circumcision was performed properly.

If you have moved out of the area, please email me. I cover a large geographical area and may still be able to perform the Bris for you.

I continue to have myself tested monthly for Covid-19. All the test results, both rapid and PCR, have been negative since April. I was also tested for the antibodies and that came back negative, as well. I usually get tested at the beginning of each month. In addition to limiting the number of Brisses I perform in a day, once I have reviewed the after-care with the parents, I am on my way. I do not stay for the meal nor remain to socialize.

My last test was in the beginning of November and the results were negative for both PCR and rapid. In addition, I wear gloves, carry three different types of masks with me and have other PPE supplies with me if needed. My next tests are scheduled for Monday, December 7th.

I received the following email from a family:

Cantor Sherman,
A family member attending the bris is high risk for becoming seriously ill should she contract Covid-19. Would you be able to share the date of your last negative result? (On our end, all parties attending the bris plan to get tested in the days prior).
Thank You,
Terry


I have had this conversation a number of times with families who are worried about the second wave of Covid-19. I am very sympathetic to their concerns, but if someone is tested in the morning, they could get infected that afternoon. When they go to get tested, they will often be standing in line for a while with other people who may be infected. If they are being tested a few days before the bris, unless they are in total quarantine and not going anywhere nor allowing anyone to come into their home before the day of the Bris, there is a risk that they could come into contact with someone who is infected even after they have been tested.

I have been to brisses where there were high-risk individuals who decided to attend. If someone is high risk for Covid-19, I recommend that they wear gloves, a mask, a face shield and be socially distanced at all times. And if someone is that high risk, perhaps they should consider not attending the Bris in person. Finally, a number of families have arranged a Covid-19 test for me at their expense in advance of their son’s Bris either with a doctor’s office, a lab or a concierge service. If you would like to do that, I am amenable.

My goal is to maximize safety and minimize the risk for everyone. I would like you to be confident in the steps I am taking when it comes to performing Brisses during this time. All of my instruments are heat-steam sterilized in an autoclave. Everything else is disposable. I use a fresh, sterilized set for every Bris. I continue to maintain and follow the strictest standards with all of the necessary PPE equipment. This may change by the time your son is born and I continue to reevaluate the situation on a week-to-week basis. For now, the following protocols are still in place for Bris families:

  • The person who holds the baby for the Bris (the Sandek) should wear a mask and gloves. Kindly have your masks on when I arrive.
  • Everyone attending the ceremony should wear a mask covering the nose and mouth and be properly socially distanced.
  • Make sure all the technology (Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc.) is set up in advance and everyone is online and ready to begin fifteen (15) minutes prior to the start time of the ceremony. Designate a co-host to admit people should they log on after the ceremony has begun. I also recommend recording the ceremony (except when the baby’s diaper is off) for future viewing. I am happy to begin a few minutes early if everyone is ready.
  • Parents—please read and review the Post-Care instructions before the Bris.
  • While the Bris is being performed, the Sandek will hold the baby and everyone else should be properly distanced.
  • The number of guests who attend and the people you include in the ceremony will be determined by your comfort level, local or state guidelines and common sense. Everyone present should be wearing masks and observe proper social distancing.
  • The Honors can be performed by anyone attending the Bris. If it is just the parents, that’s fine.
  • Brisses may be held outdoors weather permitting.

For babies that were circumcised in the hospital or did not have a proper Bris performed by a certified rabbi or cantor mohel, I can perform a Hatafat Dam Bris ceremony to turn that circumcision into a Bris. It will be a complete ceremony including the Honors, the announcement of your son’s Hebrew/Jewish name followed by a festive meal if you choose to make one. At the point in the ceremony where the circumcision would have taken place, the hatafat dam brit, the drawing of a drop of blood from the circumcision site, will be performed. The discomfort to the baby is minimal and momentary. He will probably cry more when his diaper comes off and his legs are held. This will ensure that your son will have been properly entered into the Covenant of Abraham. Doing this will allow him to have a Bar Mitzvah or get married someday unimpeded. If your son decides to follow a more traditional Jewish path in life, this will also remove any obstacles. A certificate will be issued attesting that the requirements of the Bris have been fulfilled in accordance with Jewish law. It will be recognized by all the movements of Judaism and in Israel.

NOTE: It is important to determine beforehand that the hospital or doctor circumcision was done properly. I have had two families recently who wanted the Hatafat Dam Bris ceremony, but there was so much skin left that their babies did not look circumcised. They will have to be re-circumcised before they can have a Hatafat Dam Bris Ceremony.

Summary:

  • Have a proper, traditional Bris for your son performed by me. It will be quick, gentle, and compassionate and be recognized by all the movements of Judaism and in Israel.
  • If you are looking into non-traditional doctor mohels or a hospital circumcision, please email and I will send you additional information. This is very important and parents should have as much information as possible to make a fully informed decision. The first thing you should know is that using a doctor mohel or a hospital circumcision significantly increases exposure to Covid-19. Having a hospital circumcision or a circumcision performed by a non-traditional doctor-mohel will have significant ramifications for your son going forward. If parents knew how a doctor-mohel performs a circumcision or how a hospital circumcision is performed, they would never consent to it as a viable option for their baby.
  • There is no such thing as a Bris without a circumcision. A bris without a circumcision is a naming ceremony.
  • If you have moved out of the area, please email me. I cover a large geographical area and may still be able to perform the Bris for you.
  • Finally, let us take a moment to remember those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 and wish a speedy recovery to those who are still suffering from the virus. Remember to thank the first responders and essential workers who continue to help all of us. Please remember them.

If you belong to a mommy blog or any other group or know someone that might benefit from this posting about Covid-19 and Brisses, please share it with them.

If you would like information about Brisses, Baby Naming ceremonies for girls, availability and fees, please email me. I will send you additional information to help you prepare for those joyous events. If you had your baby, Mazel Tov! If you are expecting a baby, best wishes for an easy delivery and a beautiful, healthy baby. I look forward to seeing you at a simcha (happy occasion) soon!

Cantor Philip L. Sherman
Mohel

Please visit my Facebook page (Cantor Philip L. Sherman, Mohel) for updated postings related to the Covid-19 pandemic.