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: 12/16/20

I hope you and your family are safe and well. The pandemic continues, but the end is in sight. The vaccine is here. Until it can be distributed to the general population, we still need to be vigilant about mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing. It’s not over yet.

I perform Brisses throughout the entire New York tri-state area. As a traditional, Sabbath observant Mohel, I perform Brisses and Brisses for the Sake of Conversion (Britot Milah L’shem Gerut) for Jewish families of all backgrounds: Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Orthodox, Ashkenazic, Sephardic, Interfaith, Alternative families and the LGBTQ community. I introduce and explain the ceremony in a tasteful manner with the goal of making each event warm, meaningful and inclusive. The actual circumcision is quick, gentle and compassionate with no advance preparation required. The Brisses are recognized by all the movements of Judaism and in Israel. I also perform Holistic Circumcisions for non-Jewish families.

I am happy to report that more relatives and friends are now attending Brisses. 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.

I continue to have myself tested monthly for Covid-19. My last tests results (Rapid and PCR) came in on Friday, December 11th. Both were negative. All the test results since last April have been negative. I wear gloves, carry three different types of masks with me and have other PPE supplies with me if needed. 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. 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.

Please continue to be vigilant with masks, hand washing/sanitizer and social distancing. With this second wave of Covid-19, I continue to take the pandemic very seriously.

NOTE: If you are researching mohels and are thinking about using a non-traditional doctor-mohel or having a hospital circumcision, please let me know and I will send you additional information. This is a very important decision and parents should have as much information as possible to make a fully informed decision. The chances of Covid-19 infection are much higher if you use a doctor-mohel or have a hospital circumcision. Also, a doctor-mohel or hospital circumcision can take anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes (!) with your baby strapped down to a board and then a second procedure will be required to make that operation a Bris. I don't think most parents want that for their baby.

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.

My goal is to maximize safety for everyone involved. 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 new, sterilized set for every Bris. I continue to re-evaluate 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. My mask protects you; your mask protects me.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Let us continue 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 during this second wave. Remember to thank the first responders and essential workers who continue to help all of us.

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.