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.
NOTE: Beginning December 1, 2021, the Schedule of Fees is changing. My fees have remained the same for the past seven years. Costs have increased significantly during that time and even more so recently. A nominal $75.00 increase will be applied to all fees.
I hope you and your family are safe and well. I am constantly monitoring the New York State and CDC guidelines for Covid-19 to ensure that I am up to date on what is required. With the prevalence of in-home tests, I am being tested regularly.
Many parents have become increasingly worried about having a Bris. There is no need. One can take all of the necessary precautions to have a beautiful Bris in the safety and comfort of their home.
If parents are concerned, the Bris can be performed with just the parents, the baby and me. You don’t have to have any guests or a party. All of the Honors can be performed by the parents. (You should still have a festive meal because it is a simcha—a joyous occasion.) Everyone else can attend virtually.
For a Bris at home, parents may provide (K)N95 masks, pre-Bris in-home testing, the participants may wear gloves and be socially distanced. This way the grandparents and other relatives and friends can attend and be included in the ceremony. This is what was done in 2020 when Covid was much worse and we knew much less about it.
Hopefully, you will make arrangements for your son’s Bris with me. If you are thinking of having the baby circumcised in the hospital it is because most parents have no idea how a circumcision is performed in the hospital or by a doctor. A circumcision performed by a doctor or in the hospital can take anywhere from fifteen to forty-five minutes (!) with your naked baby boy strapped down to a molded plastic board. The parents are not allowed to be present.
Allow me to be direct: Don’t circumcise your baby in the hospital or with a doctor.
I would suggest the last place that you want to have your baby circumcised is in the hospital. First and foremost, that’s where all the sick people are. With the increase in Covid hospitalizations, having your baby circumcised in the hospital can be much riskier now. Most families want to be discharged from the hospital as soon as they can so they can have the Bris at home.
I am fully vaccinated including the booster. My goal is to maximize safety and minimize the risk for everyone involved. I would like you to be confident in the steps I am taking to ensure a safe and gentle Bris for your baby. Also, I am the mohel that doctors call upon to perform the Brisses for their children, grandchildren and their patients’ children. They do not want hospital or physician circumcisions.
What if you have scheduled the Bris with me and someone tests positive for Covid? This has become a very common situation. There are a few options:
I continue to take the pandemic very seriously.
If parents wish to provide me with a 95 mask, no problem. If parents would like me to take an antigen test prior to the Bris, I arrive early enough so the results will be available in time. If I took a Covid test prior to your son’s Bris on that same day, I will provide you with a copy of those test results. If I think I have been exposed or am exhibiting any symptoms, I will inform you and quarantine immediately. In the unlikely event that I test positive, the Bris will be postponed until after I quarantine and test negative. The deposit will be applied to the rescheduled event. All deposits and payments are non-refundable.
If your baby is circumcised in the hospital before the eighth day or by a non-Jewish doctor or a doctor who is not Jewishly observant, your son will need another procedure to turn the hospital circumcision into a Bris. That is called a hatafat dam brit which is the drawing of a drop of blood from the circumcision site to enter the child into the Covenant of Abraham. Why subject your child to two procedures when you don't have to?
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 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.
All of my instruments are heat-steam sterilized in an autoclave. Everything else is disposable. I use a new, sterilized set of instruments for every Bris. I continue to monitor the Covid situation. For now, the following protocols are still in place for Bris families:
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
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