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According to traditional Jewish practice, on the eighth day after a boy is born,
he is circumcised, This ritual, referred to as Brit Milah (the covenant of circumcision),
was first mentioned in the Torah, where God says, "Every male among you
shall be circumcised… it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and
you" (Genesis 17:11).

Brit Milah - The Convenant of Circumcision

Dr. Shiffman was certified as a Mohel at The Jewish Theological Seminary in
New York in 1990. He is pleased to offer his services at your son's Brit.
Please contact him for further information.

The Hebrew word brit means covenant, a pledge or obligation. Brit Milah is the covenant of circumcision, the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis, a physical sign of the unique relationship between the Jewish people and God. Sephardic Jews sometimes refer to the rite simply as milah. In North America, the Ashkenazic Herew and Yiddish term bris is the most familiar name for the religious ritual of circumcision.

A Bris is the most ancient of all Jewish rituals, and is traditionally celebrated with feasting and song; it is a cause of joy and celebration. Jews have performed the mitzvah of brit milah for 4000 years, from the days of Abraham to the present. During this long history, observant and secular Jews, rabbis and Jews with little or no understanding of the ritual have fulfilled this, perhaps the most difficult of all biblical commandments. Deciding to circumcise your son, especially in a traditional manner, announces your identification with Judaism in a powerful, unequivocal way.

In a midrashic anecdote, the Roman Governor of Palestine, Turnus Rufus, asks Rabbi Akiba: "If God dislikes a man having a foreskin, why did He create him with one in the first place?"

Rabbi Akiba replies that God has created an incomplete world, leaving human beings to bring it to greater perfection. We are therefore in partnership with God to attempt to perfect the world we live in.

There are many partnerships into which a person will enter during his or her lifetime. Most of them, at some point, will come to an end. The brit (bris), the ritual circumcision, is a symbol of our partnership with God. Etched in the flesh of our physical bodies is a permanent reminder that the covenant will never end or be forgotten. On the occasion of his brit, a Jewish boy will also receive his Hebrew name; his family and friends celebrate with great joy.

Information Required

You should consider the following questions, and be prepared to provide this information to me prior to the date of the bris:
  1. What is the baby's Hebrew name?
  2. What are your (the parents') Hebrew names?
  3. Who will act as sandek (holding the baby during the ceremony)?
  4. Is the mother Jewish?
  5. Will a rabbi be co-officiating?
  6. Will you or other guests be participating in the ceremony, and how?
  7. Are there special things you would like me to say - or not say?

Supplies for the Day of the Bris