Judaism is a rich religion that boasts many unique rituals and traditions that tie us all together across the centuries. One such custom is the Jewish circumcision ritual. Traditional circumcision has over 4,000 years of history behind it and still holds value to those who follow these religious values. 

Whether you are in an interfaith relationship and curious about the role that a circumcision ritual can play in the spiritual life of your child and family or committed to scheduling a brit milah, understanding the rituals themselves is critical. What is the history behind Jewish circumcision rituals? Who is involved in the process? Read on to learn everything you need to know about the brit milah religious circumcision.

What Is a Circumcision?

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Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes the foreskin from the penis. It has been performed for thousands of years. Many male children today are circumcised in the hospital after birth by a doctor, but Judaism offers an alternative that is grounded in religion. Jewish circumcision rituals welcome the new child to Judaism and tie them to the spiritual tenants of the faith.

The Jewish circumcision ritual is called the brit milah, or bris. The brit milah ritual is a right of passage, and it traditionally takes place eight days after birth. In Judaism, the bris is performed to enter the child into the covenant that God made with Abraham and his descendants. Ritual circumcision forms a bond between the child and God that will stay with them to represent their faith throughout their life.

What Does the Jewish Circumcision Ritual Ceremony Include? 

Traditionally, the brit milah circumcision ritual is held in the synagogue after morning prayers. However, it can be held in your home or at another gathering place that is a good fit for your family and loved ones. Because the bris is a critical moment in the child’s life, it should always be scheduled on the eighth day after birth, even if that day falls on Shabbat.

During a traditional Jewish circumcision ritual, the mother takes the baby to the gathering room. Then, the child is given to the godparents or kvatters. The kvatters are typically a husband and wife. The child is then given to the sandek, who is the person in charge of holding the baby on their lap for the duration of the ceremony. The sandek can be a grandparent or any other family member. Being chosen as the sandek is considered a higher honor than serving as the mohel.

Before the ritual circumcision occurs, the mohel blesses the ceremony with a special prayer. The father stands next to the mohel and passes the surgical knife to the mohel while stating his permission to perform the circumcision ritual. The blades used in each ceremony are very sharp and designed to minimize any pain or discomfort.

During the Jewish circumcision ritual, the parents will pray the same blessing over the child. Any witnesses present for the procedure will also recite the blessing after the circumcision. Another sandek will hold the child while the mohel finishes naming the child and giving any other blessings that the family would like to have read. This process includes placing a few drops of wine into the newborn’s mouth. To conclude the circumcision ritual, the baby is returned to his mother by the kvatters.

The Jewish circumcision ritual is a joyous occasion, so the ceremony is traditionally followed by a celebration with the family. During the meal or celebration, the father speaks about the importance of Jewish circumcision rituals, and the family sings and gives thanks. In accordance with tradition, wine is served.

To conclude the bris and the circumcision ritual, special blessings are recited for the brit that wish good fortune and good health on the son, the parents, the sandek, and the mohel. The ritual circumcision is a festive event, even if some of the steps above need modifications to suit your family.

Can the Bris Be Scheduled After the Eighth Day?

Yes! Suppose there are any conditions that lead to a remote possibility that the child might not be able to endure the circumcision. In that case, Judaism allows for Jewish circumcision rituals to be delayed until the baby is completely recovered. In some situations, there are health complications with the child that make it inappropriate to perform the brit milah religious circumcision on the eighth day.

Some of the complications and health challenges that can lead to a bris being delayed or not performed include:

  • Infection or illness
  • Premature birth 
  • Jaundice
  • Low weight or not eating well
  • Congenital anomalies 
  • Blood clotting issues

If you are concerned that you might need to reschedule or postpone the bris, you can speak with your synagogue or mohel. The health of your new baby is paramount, even in spiritual rituals such as this.

How Should You Choose a Mohel?

Deciding who will serve as the mohel for your South Florida religious newborn circumcision is something that you should never rush. Mohels are preferred alternatives to doctors for many families because they make the circumcision process more meaningful. Mohels go above and beyond to ensure that the baby is comfortable and the procedure itself is painless.

You should always choose a Jewish circumcision mohel licensed and ordained to perform circumcisions. You can also inquire as to how many successful circumcisions the mohel has performed to confirm that they have the experience needed to complete the ritual for your child.

Are There Jewish Birth Ceremonies for Girls?

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While circumcision is not performed on female babies, some parents still seek to celebrate their children. Judaism does not have an ancient ceremony to welcome baby girls into the covenant that circumcision represents. Traditionally, the baby girl’s father is given an aliyah during the first Shabbat after the girl is born. This allows an opportunity for the infant to receive her Hebrew name and for the family to celebrate.

As the faith has changed and evolved, some congregations have developed ceremonies designed to celebrate female babies’ birth. These ceremonies are different from Jewish circumcision ceremonies. The alternative gatherings are sometimes called brit bat, and they are common in Reform Judaism.

Are You Planning a Brit Milah for Your Child? Trust South Florida Mohel for Your Circumcision

The mohel plays a critical role in one of the most important spiritual celebrations that your family will have. Dr. Andrew Krinsky is an ordained and licensed mohel who has over 20 years of experience performing Jewish circumcisions. He has compassion and sensitivity for families in any situation, including interfaith couples.

Dr. Krinsky ensures that every baby is as comfortable as possible to ensure a successful procedure with the least amount of pain. If you have any questions or concerns about whether or not a traditional Jewish circumcision is the best choice for your child and your family, we are happy to address them over the phone or in person. Call us today at (954) 280-1586 or email us at info@southfloridamohel.com. We look forward to being part of your family’s celebration.