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.
Passover celebrates the Exodus from Egypt and the freedom of the Jewish people. Scheduling Brisses can be very challenging when it comes to the Passover holiday. This year Passover begins on Friday night, April 15th. The first two days (which are holiday days) are Saturday, April 16th and Sunday, April 17th. All emails received from Friday night, April 15th after 6:00 PM through Sunday night, April 17th will be returned Sunday night, April 17th after 9:00 P.M. I will try to respond to as many emails as I can before Passover begins on Friday, April 15th.
After the holiday begins on Friday night, I will not be able to contact you until Sunday night, April 17th to make Bris arrangements.
The biggest concern with a multi-day Jewish holiday is that many families will panic because they want to schedule the Bris right away. They won’t hear from me for several days, they will panic and schedule the Bris with a non-observant doctor-mohel. In my opinion that would be a huge mistake and a very bad option. If you want a proper, kosher and gentle Bris for your son or grandson, don’t schedule the Bris on the first two days of Passover with anyone. Your patience will be rewarded with a beautiful, quick and compassionate Bris performed by me that will be recognized by all of the movements in Judaism and in Israel whose halachic validity will never be questioned.
It is religiously preferred to delay the Bris in order to obtain the services of a traditional, certified Sabbath observant rabbi or cantor mohel like myself so that your son or grandson will have a proper and kosher Bris.
A baby born by C-section cannot have a Bris on the Sabbath or a Jewish holiday. Any babies born by C-section on Friday night, April 8th through Sunday, April 10th will have their brisses on Monday, April 18th which will be a “make-up” day. Many days of Brisses will have to be scheduled on that Monday and some may spill over into Tuesday, April 19th. I will be scheduling Brisses geographically on that Monday and Tuesday in order to accommodate as many families as possible. Many believe that the Bris must take place on the eighth day. That is not the case. There are many exceptions to the eighth day rule. One exception is making sure you have a traditional, certified, Sabbath observant mohel like me so that your son or grandson will have a proper and kosher Bris. Patience and flexibility are very important and will be greatly appreciated.
Please do not make any arrangements until you have confirmed the correct day of the Bris with me and make sure only one person is making arrangements with only one mohel. The following week, the last two days of Passover (which are holiday days), begin Thursday night, April 21st through Saturday, April 23rd. All emails received from Thursday night, April 21st after 6:00 P.M. through Saturday, April 23rd will be returned Saturday night, April 23rd after the holiday has concluded around 9:00 P.M. I will try to respond to as many emails as I can before the holiday begins on Thursday, April 21st. Also, Sunday, April 24th will be a “make-up” day. Three days of Brisses may have to be scheduled on that day.
Again, a baby born by C-section cannot have a Bris on the Sabbath or a Jewish holiday. Any babies born by C-section Thursday night, April 14th through Saturday, April 16th will have their brisses on Sunday, April 24th which is another “make-up” day. I will be scheduling Brisses geographically on that Sunday in order to accommodate as many families as possible and some Brisses may need to be scheduled for Monday, April 25th.
Similarly, many families may be scheduled for those “make-up” days (or beyond) if they live outside of a certain area. Riding or driving on the Sabbath or Passover holiday is not allowed. The intermediate days of the holiday (Monday, April 18th through Thursday, April 21st) are like regular weekdays with no restrictions related to C-sections or travel.
Please email me only if you are willing to wait until after the holiday has concluded to make arrangements with me.
Waiting until after the Shabbat or holiday has concluded will ensure that your son or grandson will have a beautiful, proper and kosher Bris. It will be scheduled properly, performed on the correct day and it will be universally recognized by all the movements of Judaism and in Israel. If you make Bris arrangements on the Sabbath (Shabbat) or on the Jewish holiday, it will result in a questionable and/or halachically problematic Bris. Although it may not be a concern for you, it may have significant ramifications for your son or grandson in the future. I look forward to hearing from you and would love to be part of your simcha. Thank you and best wishes for a joyous and sweet Passover holiday!
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:
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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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