There are three traditional parts to a Bris: the milah (circumcision), the naming, and the seudat mitzvah (celebratory meal). There are certain required elements to a proper Bris ceremony yet there is ample opportunity for embellishment and creativity.
THE MILAH (CIRCUMCISION) CEREMONY
The Bris ceremony typically commences with your child being brought into the room by an honored participant called the “kvatterin” (godmother) and “kvatter” (godfather). These are purely ceremonial honors and have no religious significance or requirements as in other faiths. Once the child enters the room, everyone says the traditional welcoming blessing “Baruch Haba” (“Blessed he who enters’). The baby is optionally handed to other honored participants and then placed or touched by the chair of Elijah.
The Mohel recites a prayer honoring Elijah and reminding us of his significance.
The baby is then placed in the lap of the “sandak” which is the person who is responsible for watching over the baby during the circumcision procedure. This is considered the most honored position of the ceremony. This honor is most often bestowed upon a grandfather. Today we use a circumstraint to hold the baby during the procedure and the “sandak” gives the baby wine soaked gauze.
The parents recite some blessings and then are asked by the mohel if they wish for him to serve as their proxy to fulfill the commandment to have their son circumcised.
The mohel then begins performing the circumcision and he recites the blessing over the circumcision just before the cut is made.
After the procedure is completed, the parents recite a prayer recognizing that they have fulfilled the obligation to enter their son into the covenant of Abraham.
The assembled guests recite a prayer of hope for the child expressing their desire for him to become learned of Torah and Jewish ways, to get married and procreate, and to have a full life of good deeds.
A Mishebeirach prayer of healing is recited followed by a Kiddush and a benediction prayer.
THE NAMING CEREMONY
Once the child has been circumcised, the naming ceremony follows. Either a “standing sandak” (another honored position) or a parent holds the baby during the naming ceremony. After the mohel or a rabbi formally announces the childs Hebrew name, the parents offer some words as to the name’sderivation and its personal meaning.
The last feeding for your son should end 30 minutes before the ceremony begins. This is very important if you want your son to be as comfortable as possible. Please have your guests in place at the time that you have arranged to maximize his comfort. Time delays tend to increase crying a lot.
The ceremony for the Brit Milah (Covenant of Circumcision) takes about 20-25 minutes. This is a very spiritually moving ceremony that I am dedicated to making happen for you with your help.
Hebrew name. Discuss choices with the Rabbi from your synagogue or the Mohel prior to the day of the Bris.
Hebrew name: ——————————-
You should welcome your Rabbi to participate in this mitzvah, if he or she is so inclined.
Mandatory roles in the ceremony:
1. Sandak-helper. Historically, this person would hold the boy on their lap while the Mohel performed the circumcision. Good news! Now we have a molded plastic board and Velcro straps to hold the boy even more safely. The role of the Sandak is to distract the boy’s attention with some of the wine on a 2×2.
Name of Sandak’———————————-
2. Kvater-godparent. This person or couple will take the care of your children ifthe parents are not able to fulfill their obligation. For the ceremony, the Kvater brings the boy to the Chair of Elijah just prior to the circumcision. If there are two Kvaterim, then they pass the boy between themselves and then to the Chair of Elijah.
Name of Kvater ————————————————
Parental consent and Blessings. In Jewish law, it is the parent’s obligation to circumcise their sons. The custom, however, is to pass the mitzvah to an expert, hence my job as the Mohel. Therefore the parents present their son to the Mohel to fulfill the sacred obligation begun with Abraham’s commitment to OUR GOD.
I bring a handout for the entire ceremony so that people can follow what occurs at this mitzvah. There are parts in the handout for the parents and grandparents. These are in Hebrew and in English. There is also a part where someone can explain the significance of the baby’s names. There is also a part for the Kiddush and for the blessing of the challah. I need the names of all people who will participate in the ceremony. If you want something said or somebody mentioned during the ceremony, please let me know.