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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Bris Milah?

The word itself means “Covenant of Circumcision”. It is the sign attesting to the everlasting covenant that G-d established with Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17). It was then reiterated through Moses 500 years later: “And on the 8th day he shall have his foreskin circumcised” (Leviticus 12:3).

Who can be a Mohel?

The Mohel who performs the ritual circumcision is a person who has received specialized training in the medical and ritual aspects of the bris. The moment of the bris has a great spiritual effect upon the child and therefore Jewish law specifies that one should choose a Mohel who is noted not only for his technical skills but also for his level of piety. It has therefore been the tradition that a Rabbi, cantor, or spiritual leader will also serve the community as a Mohel.

Why isn’t there a corresponding ceremony for a girl?

Tradition holds the Jewish woman in the greatest esteem. It is the Jewish mother who conveys the Jewish status and birthright upon her child, ensuring the future of the entire Jewish people. Tradition tells us that a newborn girl is considered “complete” with regard to the spiritual benefits attained through a Bris Milah.

My wife and I are both Gentiles however we would like a Mohel to perform the circumcision?

When circumcision is performed on a gentile it is usually done for medical reasons. A Mohel is one that performs circumcision only for ritual reasons, therefore the Mohel generally does not perform circumcision on gentiles.

Is there an obligation to circumcise a child that was born to a Gentile mother and a Jewish father?

The obligation is for a Jew to circumcise his Jewish child. However the Jewish law states that Judaism follows the mother and if the mother is non-Jewish then unless there is a proper conversion (to the mother) the child is not Jewish and does not require circumcision.

Is there a gift that is appropriate for the Bris?

As a good friend it may be thoughtful to come to the Bris with a gift. A nice gift may be something like an infants outfit or perhaps the parents have set up a baby gift registry.