The Bris Ceremony
A bris performed according to Jewish tradition is a wonderful beginning for a newborn child. It is a memorable experience, replete with significance and meaning for all those involved, and the first of many milestones to be celebrated during the child’s life as he grows to be a source of pride and joy to all those close to him.
The ceremony usually takes place at home, in a synagogue or at a catering hall, and is customized to accommodate individual needs and goals.
There are several honors to be conferred during the ceremony, usually bestowed upon the relatives and close friends of the family. A brief description of the ceremony is as follows: A couple enters with the baby. The baby is then placed on a chair designated as the Chair of Elijah. The father then gives the baby to the Sandek (most often a grandfather) who holds the baby on his lap during the circumcision procedure. The circumcision is then performed by the mohel. Immediately following the bris, the baby is held by an honoree and a blessing is recited. The baby receives his official Hebrew name, which he will proudly carry throughout his life. The newborn child is often named after a departed relative, a symbolic source of continued life for those no longer with us. The ceremony ends with the resounding wish of “Mazel Tov!” and is typically followed by refreshments or a light meal.
A mohel is a person who is specially trained in the medical and surgical techniques of circumcision. In addition, the mohel is also thoroughly versed in the Jewish laws pertaining to bris. A doctor’s medical circumcision, usually performed in the hospital within the first few days after birth, is not considered valid according to Jewish law.
The bris is typically done on the eighth day (counting the day of birth). If 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.
Kvater: a couple who enters the room with the baby
Kisei Shel Eliyahu: person who places the baby on a designated chair known as the chair of Elijah the Prophet
Sandek: person who holds the baby during the bris ceremony
Sandek Me’umad: person who holds the baby during the naming ceremony
Brachos-Kri’as HaShem: person who blesses and names the baby
(The last two can be split into two honors each.)
Siblings: A special place in the ceremony will be reserved for the loving siblings of the baby!
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Before the Bris
Things to Prepare for the Bris
- Firm sleeping pillow
- 4 cloth diapers (or towels)
- 2 Tallis (prayer shawls)
- Kosher sweet grape wine & kiddush cup
Day of Ceremony
- Do not soak or use ointments, creams or lotions on bris area; sponge bath is okay.
- Last feeding should be within the hour before the bris.
- Dress baby in clothing which may be easily opened from the bottom
- Wrap baby in receiving blanket.
After the Bris
After the Ceremony
- Apply Bacitracin on gauze and place on top of bris area at each diaper change for 3-5 days. Please Note: We will supply Bacitracin and gauze
- Baby may lay in any position that seems comfortable (even on stomach).
- If baby is uncomfortable, you may give 1.25 ml of liquid infant acetaminophen. (Please consult your doctor).
Day After the Bris
- Bathing is helpful to the healing process. Once the umbilical cord falls off, you may give a full bath. Until then, sponge bathing is preferable.
- The redness will subside after a few days. A yellowish soft tissue known as ‘granulation’ may form around the bris area. This is part of the normal healing process.
Rabbi Yaakov (Jacob) Rappaport was recommended by my good friend and after a bad hospital experience for my first son (and a trip to the pediatric urologist), I didn’t hesitate reaching out to him for the circumcision of my second son. He answered all of my questions ahead of time and gave the option to come and perform the circumcision at our home! Everything was incredibly quick and Rabbi Rappaport explained what to do for after care and took the time to answer follow up questions. He reached out multiple times to check on how our son was doing! A MUCH better experience this time, which we are thankful for! We highly recommend Rabbi Yaakov (Jacob) Rappaport!
Natalie & Jon Van Dyke
We were so happy and fortunate that our good friend Rabbi Avraham Rappaport was able to fly out to Chicago to perform our son Eli’s bris. Having two other sons born in other states with other Mohels we really feel that Rabbi Avraham Rappaport is “a cut above the rest”! His knowledge, his ceremony and his medical care and expertise were so reassuring to us.
I know that there are many mohelim in our community, but having built a decade-long relationship with Rabbi Rappaport, it is easy for me to offer my highest recommendation without reservations. When it comes to something as important as your child’s bris milah, I would settle for nothing but the best. And, in my humble opinion, the best is Rabbi Moshe Rappaport.
Urologist, Baltimore, MD