When should the bris take place?

Where should the Bris be performed?

Which communities do you service?

What are the honors bestowed at the Bris?

What should be prepared for the Bris?

What else needs to be done in preperation for the Bris?

What happens at the ceremony?

Why should parents want or need to use a Mohel to perfom the Bris?

How much is the Bris going to hurt the baby?

Isn't a Bris less traumatic when performed in the hospital?

We are not Orthodox. I'm afraid that we won't be familiar with any of the Hebrew prayers?






When should the Bris take place?

The Bris of a healthy baby is done on the eighth day of life (counting the day of birth). This is so even if the eighth day falls on Shabbos, Yom Kippur or any other Jewish festival. However, in the case of a baby born by Cesarean section, the Bris is not performed on Shabbos or on a festival, but on the day following. Bris Milah may not be performed before the eighth day or at night. In the event that a baby is not in perfect health - even if not seriously ill - the Bris is delayed until both the doctor and the mohel are in agreement as to the healthy status of the baby. A common example of this situation is newborn jaundice. However, in the case of serious illness, a delay of one week following full recovery is required. There may be other technical considerations that would necessitate delaying the Bris beyond the preferred eighth day. The Mohel will discuss all of these considerations with the baby's parents in order for them to make the right decision together.


Where should the Bris be performed?

A Bris does not have to be done at a synagogue. The best place to perform a Bris is the place which is most convenient for the family. The parents' home is often the most convenient. However, the parents are then left with the mess to deal with after the Bris dust settles. Often, a relative or friend will host the Bris. Another option is to have the Bris at a catering hall or party room.


Which communities do you service?

I service the Cincinnati community and the tri-state area. Often I do travel, but it depends on the schedule.


What are the honors bestowed at the Bris?

Honors are optional. A minyan (10 men) is not needed by Jewish law, although it is preferable.

• KVATER - A couple to bring the baby forward.

• CHAIR OF ELIJAH - One person to put the baby on a chair during ceremony.

• SANDEK - One man to hold the baby during the actual circumcision.

• SANDEK SHANIE - One person to hold the baby during naming ceremony.

If there are more members of the family to honor, please bring it to my attention and I'll make sure to include everyone. Special prayers for the grandparents are recited (in English!), and a Hebrew blessing is recited by the baby's father.


What should be prepared for the Bris?

• 4 disposable diapers

• baby wipes

• 1 receiving blanket

• A small table (such as a card table) for the mohel to place his instruments on

• A bottle of liquid infant Tylenol or Motrin

• 1 tube of Bacitracin ointment and 1 tube of A&D ointment

• A box of 3x3 inch sterile gauze pads

• A bottle of sweet, Kosher wine

The mohel can provide these items for you if necessary.


What else needs to be done in preparation for the Bris?

Please try, if possible, to arrange feedings so that baby will have eaten his last meal one hour before the Bris. While any outfit will do, the easiest "Bris Outfit" is a nightgown/kimono type outfit for the Bris. A kippa-yarmulka is not needed for the baby. The Bris is to be performed on a firm Bris pillow (which I provide) placed on the lap of the adult who will sit on a chair. A small table of regular height is necessary for me to put my instruments on. The table should be placed near a window or any other source of good light.


What happens at the ceremony?

The Bris ceremony is a very special occasion and is accompanied by much happiness and rejoicing. A brief description of the ceremony is as follows: A couple enters with the baby and the baby is placed on a chair designated as the Chair of Elijah. The baby is then placed upon the lap of the Sandek (most often a grandfather) who holds the baby during the circumcision procedure. After the appropriate blessing is recited, the circumcision is performed by the mohel. Immediately following the Bris, another blessing is said over a cup of wine, and the baby receives his official Hebrew name, which he will proudly carry throughout his life. The newborn child is often named after departed relatives, a symbolic source of continued life for those no longer with us. My personal Bris presentation includes all the blessings and prayers in the traditional Hebrew and also in English for everyone to understand and appreciate. The ceremony ends with the resounding wish of Mazel Tov! followed by the serving of refreshments or a light meal. The entire ceremony lasts approximately 25 minutes.


Why should parents want or need to use a Mohel to perform a Bris?

Experience: The mohel is a super-specialist, an expert at his profession, who probably possesses more experience at performing circumcisions than most doctors. A mohel may have the opportunity to perform more Brisses in a month than some doctors do in an entire year. It is important to choose a Mohel with whom you feel comfortable, someone who will be accommodating to the specific needs of the family. Pediatricians, obstetricians and urologists constantly marvel at the work of a good mohel. I personally feel that in order to be considered an expert Mohel, it is necessary to spend a significant amount of time in training and apprenticing in order to become familiar with the many challenging variations of the Bris area and its impact on how the Bris must be performed in each case.

Availability: Doctors may be called away on medical emergencies and have to cancel their participation in your child's circumcision at the last minute. There have been occasions when I have been called in to perform Brisses on behalf of doctors who've had to cancel due to a sudden medical emergency.

Knowledge of Jewish Law and Custom: Doctors, not familiar with the religious requirements of Brit Milah, and dealing with the demands of their own busy schedules, may inadvertently schedule Brisses at religiously inappropriate times: on the incorrect day, for example, or at night. In addition to being an expert in his field, the Mohel is also an expert in the Jewish laws pertaining to Bris Milah. A doctor's medical circumcision, usually performed in the hospital within the first few days after birth, does not fulfill the requirements of a Bris Milah and is not considered valid according to Jewish law. Most importantly, the Bris must be performed by a Jewish person who understands, upholds and practices the tenets of the Jewish religion and is specially trained to function as a Mohel.


How much is the Bris going to hurt the baby?

While the Bris is not exactly a "walk on the beach," and there is some discomfort for the baby, Jewish tradition teaches us an interesting idea: One of the reasons that the Torah instructs us to perform the Bris on the eighth day is because at that precise age the baby is old enough to achieve coagulation, as the bleeding is easily controlled. However, at eight days old, the baby's nerve endings are not fully developed, and the pain is minimal. In fact, I've observed that the baby usually cries more from the discomfort of having his legs exposed and held, and typically stops crying after his diaper is closed and his legs swaddled. It is important to remember, too, that while this pain is limited and short-lived, what the Bris represents, that special bond being developed between the baby and G-d, will be everlasting. No matter where the child will be in life or what he'll be doing, he will always have that Bris and all that it symbolizes.


Isn’t a circumcision less traumatic when performed in the hospital?

Actually, the traditional Bris is much quicker and less painful than the typical hospital circumcision. Here is a section of an article from the Associated Press entitled Jewish Circumcision Gentler Because Of Tools Used. It first appeared in the Connecticut Post on 08/21/97: HARTFORD (AP) Mohels, the deft practitioners of the ancient Jewish rite of circumcision, appear to inflict less pain on their newborn subjects than most doctors do. And the secret could lie in the different tools they use, says a doctor at a Catholic hospital where the competing techniques were put to the test. In a study involving 48 newborn boys, the clamp used by mohels was found to be much quicker to deploy and less painful than the one favored by most doctors. The boys circumcised with a Mogen, the clamp used by mohels, had less than half the heart rate increase and total crying time of infants circumcised with a Gomco, the device used by most doctors. Oxygen levels were also higher in the Mogen infants, a sign they suffered less stress, said Dr. Hema N. DeSilva, director of neonatology at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, the study leader and a regular user of the mohel's tool of trade. "With the Mogen clamp, half of them didn't cry at all. They were comfortable," DeSilva said. "With the Gomco clamp they cried longer. They cried over 60 percent of the time." Results of the study were published in last month's edition of the OB/GYN News and presented in May at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Washington. The findings were no surprise to Rabbi Yehuda Lebovics, a Los Angeles mohel who has performed more than 10,000 circumcisions. "Doctors are not as comfortable with the whole procedure. With a Mogen I can complete the Bris in 20 to 30 seconds. The doctors take 3 to 5 minutes," he said. Mohels, who typically do their work in the home, also are under added pressure to perform well, Lebovics said. "A mohel is used to working with a grandmother breathing down his neck," he said, laughing. "You are concerned, of course, for the baby, but you're also in front of a crowd. A surgeon couldn't handle that." For Jews, the ritual circumcision symbolizes the entrance of a male child into the traditional covenant with God. It is performed on the eighth day after birth health permitting; the child's godfather usually holds the infant on his lap while the mohel does the procedure.


We are not Orthodox. I’m afraid that we won’t be familiar with any of the Hebrew prayers.

Let me preface my answer by saying that being a mohel and seeing the observance of the Bris in different circles is a beautiful and special thing. Two aspects are most special to me: The first is that I am able to witness the most basic of Jewish traditions being observed all over. The second is that besides being one of the most important Jewish rituals, the Bris is a common bond, uniting Jews of all types. It is a universal mitzvah. For this reason I see no barriers, or differences of denomination when it comes to a Bris. If your son is Jewish, he deserves a proper Bris. I am happy to translate and provide explanation to the ceremony and prayers.







Contact Information:

6515 Elbrook Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45237


Cell: 513-835-5005