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: 3/19/21

I hope you and your family are safe and well. We have turned the corner. The vaccine is here. I received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. As more and more people are receiving the vaccine, we still should be careful about mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing.

I continue to perform Brisses throughout the entire New York tri-state area. As a traditional Sabbath observant modern Orthodox Mohel, I perform Brisses for Jewish families of all backgrounds: Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Orthodox, Ashkenazic, Sephardic, Interfaith, Alternative families, LGBTQ, and Single parents. I introduce and explain the ceremony in a tasteful manner with the goal of making each event warm, meaningful and inclusive. The actual circumcision takes under twenty seconds. It 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 more family friends are attending Brisses. As a reminder, anyone attending a Bris should still wear a mask. I continue to have myself tested regularly for Covid-19 and all of the test results to date have been negative. I still carry all of the necessary PPE supplies with me and continue to monitor and re-evaluate the situation on an ongoing basis.

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.

Please read below on the Home page about Brisses that may coincide with Passover this year. It is very tricky. Patience and flexibility are crucial. Please email me only if you are willing to wait until after the holiday has concluded on Monday night, April 29th to make arrangements with me.

Conversely, if you want a beautiful, proper and kosher Bris, do not make arrangements with anyone on the Sabbath or a Jewish holiday. It will have significant ramifications Jewishly for your son or grandson.

My goal is to maximize safety for everyone involved. I would like you to be confident in all of the steps I am taking when it comes to performing Brisses during this time. My instruments are heat-steam sterilized in an autoclave. Everything else is disposable. I use a new, sterilized set for every Bris.

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. Kindly have your masks ready when I arrive. My mask protects you; your mask protects me.
  • Anyone holding the baby should wear a mask, also.
  • 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. Set up “Admit All” or 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.
  • 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 performed properly. I have had a number of 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 Bris/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 extremely 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.
  • Let us continue to remember those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 and wish a speedy recovery to those who may still suffering from the virus. We need to continue to express our gratitude to G-d, the first responders and all of the people who continue to help 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.


Shavuot 2021/5781

Shavuot is a harvest festival and celebrates the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people. This year Shavuot begins on Sunday evening, May 16th. Monday and Tuesday May 17th and 18th are holiday days. All emails received from Sunday, May 16th after 6:00 PM through Tuesday night, May 18th will be returned Tuesday night, May 18th after 9:00 P.M. I will try to respond to as many emails as I can before Shavuot begins on Sunday, May 16th.

A baby born by C-section cannot have a Bris on the Sabbath or a Jewish holiday. Any babies born by C-section Sunday night, May 9th through Tuesday, May 11th will have their brisses on Wednesday, May 19th which is a “make-up” day. Three days of Brisses will have to be scheduled into that Wednesday. It is possible that some Brisses may spill over into Thursday, May 20th. I will be scheduling Brisses geographically on that Wednesday in order to accommodate as many families as possible.

Similarly, any families who live outside of Manhattan will be scheduled for that “make-up” Wednesday.

  • Please do not make any arrangements or notify family or friends until you have confirmed the correct day of the Bris with me.
  • Make sure only one person is making arrangements with only one mohel.
  • For a Bris that will be properly scheduled, performed and recognized by all of the movements in Judaism and in Israel, use a traditional, certified Rabbi or Cantor mohel only.

Please email me only if you are willing to wait until after the Shabbat or holiday has concluded to make arrangements with me.

Waiting until after the holiday has concluded will insure 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 and accepted by all the movements of Judaism and in Israel. Bris arrangements made on the Sabbath (Shabbat) or Jewish holiday 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 Shavuot holiday!