How to Plan a Bris

Category: Culture & Society

Mazel tov! You have a beautiful boy--and eight days to plan a bris
(also called a Brith Milah), when the baby is circumcised and receives
his Hebrew name. A bris is one of the rare Jewish life-cycle rituals
that can be performed on Shabbat or even High Holidays. Don't forget
the bagels and lox!


  • Choose a mohel to perform the ritual circumcision. Ask for a recommendation from your rabbi, cantor or Jewish friends who have boys. You can even find listings on the Internet. You should line up a mohel well before the birth (if you know the sex).

  • Ask candidates the following questions:

  • Get the mohel's clearance that the baby is healthy enough for the bris. Sometimes the pediatrician will intervene and say the baby is too sick or weak. Under these circumstances you can postpone the bris until the baby is well enough.

  • Select a place to have the ceremony. Hold it in your synagogue as part of the daily morning services, or have it in your home. If there are health considerations, the mohel might opt to do the circumcision in the hospital.

  • Spread the word. The only people required to attend are the parents, the baby, the mohel, and the sandek, who is most often the baby's grandfather and who is responsible for holding the baby during the circumcision and when he receives his Jewish name.

  • Decorate the house or synagogue with flowers and candles.

  • Hire a caterer or rely on friends and family to bring food. Even if you don't observe kashruth (the Jewish dietary laws), make sure to serve foods that will accommodate the rabbi's and mohel's preferences. Fruits, vegetables and fish are always safe choices.

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