The bris takes place on the eighth day of life.

Family and friends gather in a room appropriate to the dignity of this service. Either the grandmothers or godparents hold the baby while introductions are made, and a brief description of the meaning of the bris service is given by the mohel. Everyone in the room will have a copy of the service and there are opportunities for relatives and friends to read passages. A usual service is as follows.

The parents recite a prayer in which they announce that they are entering their son into the covenant that God made with our ancestors, Abraham and Sarah.

The grandparents read a prayer which expresses their hopes for the child's future. The parents then present the baby to the sondak (usually the Grandfather(s)). The sondak sits in the kisei shel Eili-yahu, the chair of Elijah, while the mohel explains the significance of Elijah. The sondak gives the baby to the mohel for the circumcision.

It is recommended that a topical anesthetic (EMLA) be applied about two hours in advance.

The circumcision can be performed in the same room where everyone is gathered or in a more private setting. In either case the sondak holds the baby for the circumcision and afterwards presents the baby to his mother. The parents then recite a blessing pledging themselves to bring the child into the covenant of Abraham.

The service continues in the same room where it started and the baby is given his Hebrew name and blessed. It is appropriate for a few words to be said about the baby's name and about the individuals for whom he is named.

The kiddush is recited; the mi-she-berach, the prayer for health is read by the mohel, and the baby is then blessed with the ancient prayer from the Torah, the Birkat Kohenim, The Priestly Blessing . At the conclusion everyone recites the she-heh-cheh-ya-nu.

The parents then give thanks for the gift of their child and pray that they will be worthy of the blessing and responsibility of parenthood.

The service concludes with a se-udat mitzvah, a celebratory meal.

© 2000 Barry A. Meisel, M.D. — 914-659-5127
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