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 am very happy to write this update. Thank G-d, we are here. The pandemic is in its final throes. We are out of the tunnel. Most, if not all of the restrictions have been lifted. The Brisses that I am performing now are like they were before the pandemic began which means many guests in attendance, a festive meal and no one wearing masks. I am fully vaccinated and no longer require masks, gloves or social distancing. Parents will use their discretion regarding Covid-19 guidelines. Masks, gloves, social distancing, the number of guests they invite, whether the Bris will be held indoors or outdoors will be determined by the parents of the baby. (Brisses may be held outdoors weather permitting. If it is raining or snowing; too hot, too cold, too windy or too humid, the Bris will be held indoors.) I do think that Zoom will remain a feature at all Brisses going forward as it will allow those who are far away or who cannot attend in person to be part of the simcha (happy occasion). A minyan is not required for the Bris ceremony.
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.
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. 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:
**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.
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.
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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