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