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.


(After you have read the Covid-19 Update, please scroll down to read about Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah this year.)

Covid-19 and Brisses: Update: 10/9/20

I hope you and your family are safe and well. Again, let us take a moment to remember those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 and wish a speedy recovery to those who are still suffering from the virus. Remember to thank the first responders and essential workers who continue to help all of us. Don’t forget them. 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 turn the corner on this.

I am performing Brisses throughout the tri-state area and recently had my busiest week since the pandemic began. 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 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. Please contact me if you would like to have a Hatafat Dam Bris ceremony for your son. (See below.) Also, it is very important to determine beforehand that the hospital or doctor circumcision was done 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. The last test was October 8th. 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.

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. 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:

  • I recommend that masks and gloves be worn by the person who holds the baby for the Bris (the Sandek) and anyone else holding the baby during the ceremony. Kindly have your masks on when I arrive.
  • Everyone attending the ceremony should wear a mask covering the nose and mouth and be properly socially distanced.
  • 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. 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 will 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. Everyone present should be wearing masks and observe proper social distancing. Many parents assure me that they have been cautious during the pandemic, but reassurances become less certain with grandparents, aunts and uncles and other guests who may attend the Bris. 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. If it is too hot, too humid or raining, the bris will be held indoors.

As a precaution, I am still limiting the number of Brisses I perform in a day. In the event that I receive more requests than I am able to perform on any given day, please let me know if you are willing to delay your son’s bris a day or two so I can accommodate as many families as possible, as safely as possible.

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.

Summary:

  • Have a proper, traditional Bris for your son performed by me. It will be safe, gentle and compassionate and it will 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 a very important decision and parents should have as much information as possible to make a fully informed decision. Having a hospital circumcision or a circumcision performed by a non-traditional doctor-mohel will have serious ramifications for your son and his Jewishness going forward. On another level, if parents knew how a doctor-mohel performs a circumcision or how a hospital circumcision is performed, they would never consider it as a viable option for their baby.
  • There is no such thing as a Bris without a circumcision. A bris without a circumcision is a naming ceremony.
  • 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.

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.


Sukkot 2020/5781

Sukkot is a holiday of thanksgiving for the fruit harvest.

This year, Sukkot begins on Friday night, October 2nd, and is observed on Saturday/Shabbat, October 3rd and Sunday, October 4th. All emails received from Friday evening October 2nd through Sunday, October 4th will be answered on Sunday, October 4th after 8:00 P.M. I will try to respond to as many emails as I can before the holiday begins on Sunday evening.

A baby born by C-section cannot have a Bris on the Sabbath or a Jewish holiday. Any babies born by C-section Friday night, September 25th through Sunday, September 27th, will have their brisses on Monday, October 5th which is a "make-up" day. Several days of Brisses will need to be scheduled on that Monday. It is possible that some Brisses may even spill over into Tuesday, October 6th. I will be scheduling Brisses geographically on that day in order to accommodate as many families as possible so being flexible with the time will be greatly appreciated.

Similarly, any families who live in an area that requires travelling (like Long Island, Connecticut, etc.) will be scheduled for that "make-up" Monday (or Tuesday) as well, if the Bris coincides with Sukkot.

  • 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, please use a traditional, certified Rabbi or Cantor mohel only.

Please email me only if you are willing to wait until after Rosh Hashanah has concluded to make arrangements with me.

Waiting until after the holiday has concluded will ensure that your son or grandson will have a beautiful, proper and halachic Bris. It will be scheduled properly, performed on the correct day and will be universally recognized by all the movements of Judaism and in Israel. Bris arrangements that are made on the Sabbath (Shabbat) or Jewish holiday will result in a questionable and/or halachically problematic Bris which 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 happy Sukkot.

Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah 2020/5781

Shemini Atzeret is the Eighth Day of Assembly which is a closing festival and Simchat Torah celebrates the conclusion of the annual cycle of the public Torah reading and the beginning of the new Torah reading cycle.

A baby born by C-section cannot have a Bris on the Sabbath or a Jewish holiday. Any babies born by C-section Friday night, October 2nd through Sunday, October 4th will have their brisses on Monday, October 12th which is a "make-up" day. Several days of Brisses will have to be scheduled into that Monday. It is possible that some Brisses may spill over into Tuesday, October 13th. I will be scheduling Brisses geographically on that Wednesday in order to accommodate as many families as possible, so flexibility with scheduling the time will be greatly appreciated.

Similarly, any families who live in an area that requires travelling (like Long Island, Connecticut, etc.) will be scheduled for that "make-up" Monday (or Tuesday) as well, if the Bris coincides with Shemini Atzeret or Simchat Torah.

  • 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, please use a traditional, certified Rabbi or Cantor mohel only.

Please email me only if you are willing to wait until after Rosh Hashanah has concluded to make arrangements with me.

Waiting until after the holiday has concluded will ensure that your son or grandson will have a beautiful, proper and halachic Bris. It will be scheduled properly, performed on the correct day and will be universally recognized by all the movements of Judaism and in Israel. Bris arrangements that are made on the Sabbath (Shabbat) or Jewish holiday may result in a questionable and/or halachically problematic Bris which 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 holiday season!