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: 2/21/21

I hope you and your family are safe and well. The pandemic continues, but the end is in sight. The vaccine is here. I have received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Until it can be distributed to the general population, we still need to be careful about mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing. It’s not over yet.

NOTE: Due to a two day non-Bris project on Monday and Tuesday, February 22nd and 23rd, it may take me a little longer to get back to you. Your patience is appreciated. Thank you.

I continue to perform Brisses throughout the entire New York tri-state area. As a traditional, Sabbath observant 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 friends are now attending Brisses. As a reminder, anyone attending a Bris should still wear a mask covering their nose and mouth and anyone holding the baby should wear gloves, as well.

I continue to have myself tested regularly for Covid-19. All the test results to date have been negative. 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, a clinic or a concierge service. If you would like to do that, I am amenable.

I carry all of the necessary PPE supplies with me. In addition to limiting the number of Brisses I perform in a day, once I have reviewed the Post-Care instructions with the parents, I am on my way. I do not stay for the meal nor remain to socialize. I continue to monitor and re-evaluate the situation on an ongoing basis.

Even though the vaccine has arrived, please continue to be vigilant with masks, hand washing/sanitizer and social distancing.

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.

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.

(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 wait to make Bris arrangements with me after the holiday has concluded. Conversely, if you want a beautiful, proper and kosher Bris, do not make arrangements with anyone on the Sabbath or a Jewish holiday. It could have major 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 and gloves. Kindly have your masks on when I arrive. My mask protects you; your mask protects me.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • Let us continue 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. We need to continue to express our gratitude to the first responders and essential workers who continue to help all of 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.


Passover 2021/5781

Passover celebrates the Exodus from Egypt and the freedom of the Jewish people. Scheduling Brisses can be very challenging in view of the Passover holiday. This year Passover begins on Saturday night, March 27th. The first two days (which are holiday days) are Sunday, March 28th and Monday March 29th which is preceded by Shabbat. All emails received from Friday night, March 26th after 6:00 PM through Monday night, March 29th will be returned Monday night, April 29th after 9:00 P.M. I will try to respond to as many emails as I can before Passover begins on Friday, March 26th.

Because of the Shabbat and the first two days of Passover that follow on Sunday and Monday, I will not be able to contact you until Monday night, March 29th to make Bris arrangements. Please email me only if you are willing to wait until after the holiday has concluded on Monday night to make arrangements with me.

The biggest concern with a multi-day Jewish holiday that is preceded by Shabbat is that many families will panic because they want to schedule the Bris right away. They won’t hear from me for three days, they will panic and schedule the Bris with a non-observant doctor mohel on Shabbat or on the first two days of Passover. In my opinion that would be a big 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 Shabbat or 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 you 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, March 19th through Monday, March 22nd will have their brisses on Tuesday, March 30th which will be a “make-up” day. Four days of Brisses may have to be scheduled on that Tuesday and some may spill over into Wednesday, March 31st. I will be scheduling Brisses geographically on that Tuesday and Wednesday 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 Friday night, April 2nd through Sunday, April 4th. All emails received from Friday, April 2nd after 6:00 PM through Sunday night, April 4th will be returned Sunday night, April 4th 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 Friday, April 2nd. Monday, April 5th will also be a “make-up” day. Three days of Brisses may have to be scheduled on that Monday.

Again, 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, March 26th through Sunday, March 28th will have their brisses on Monday, April 5th which is another “make-up” day. I will be scheduling Brisses geographically on that Monday in order to accommodate as many families as possible and some Brisses may need to be scheduled for Tuesday, April 6th.

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 (Tuesday, March 30th through Friday, April 2nd) are like regular weekdays with no restrictions related to C-sections or travel.

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!