PLANNING A BRIS

When to contact the mohel?

Call or text me at the earliest convenient hour after giving birth. We’ll confirm the appropriate day for the Bris and agree on a mutually convenient time for the ceremony.

When is a bris held?

A bris should be held on the eighth day of life during the day, counting the day of birth as the first day according to the Jewish calendar (a new Jewish day begins at nightfall, not at midnight). A bris can be held on Shabbat or a Jewish festival, assuming that the baby was not born by C-section and a qualified mohel is available within walking distance. Otherwise, it should be postponed to the next non-Shabbat or non-festival day. The baby's medical eligibility for circumcision should be determined by his pediatrician.

How many people should attend a bris?

Any size crowd is appropriate for a bris.  A minyan (quorum of 10 Jewish people) is not required.  During the Covid-19 pandemic, safety and health considerations should be the primary consideration in determining crowd size. 

Whom to honor

Honors at a bris are traditionally given to those closest to the parents and baby.  Typically, the baby’s grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles are among the recipients of most of the honors.  The roles of sandek (holds the baby during the ritual of circumcision and during the naming) and kvater (escorts the baby into the room on a pillow) are considered high honors.  Ultimately, the choice of whom to honor with participation in a bris is up to the parents, who may opt to include anyone in the ceremony.  The list of honorees can be expanded as needed to accommodate whatever number of honorees the parents wish to include.

Godparents

Assigning godparents did not originate in Jewish tradition, but was adapted from Christianity, where it included the responsibility of providing a religious education to children if their parents were deceased.  While some Jews choose to designate relatives or close friends as godparents, it is neither traditional nor necessary.   If godparents are assigned, they should not automatically be considered legal guardians.

Choosing a venue

A bris may be held in any indoor venue chosen by the parents, including a private home, a function room or community room, a synagogue, a restaurant, or a country club.  While guests may gather outside for the ceremony, such as in a backyard or a deck, the ritual of circumcision must take place indoors.  In such a case, the mohel, parents, and a select few people would move indoors for the ritual and then return to the outdoor space for the conclusion of the ceremony.

Supply List

  • A sturdy table covered with a tablecloth if desired.

  • An additional small table (not needed if the main table is larger than a card table).

  • A small wastebasket with a plastic bag liner.

  • 50- 3x3 individually wrapped gauze pads.

  • A large container of ointment (Vaseline or Aquaphor, tube preferred).

  • A disposable diaper and diaper wipes.

  • 3 burp cloths.

  • A standard bed pillow with a pillowcase.

  • A kiddush cup.

  • A challah.

  • Candlesticks and candles (optional).

  • Kosher grape juice or sweet kosher wine.

Choosing a name

  1. A Hebrew name is a gift you give your baby that lasts a lifetime. It is a symbol of his Jewish identity and a link to his personal and communal past. I can help you to choose an appropriate name. Jewish names are chosen according to family and communal custom rather than law and requirements.

  2. Naming customs:

    • In memory of one or more loved ones.  Jews of Ashkenazic descent typically do not give a name after a living relative.

    • In honor of a living relative.

    • Either Hebrew or Yiddish names can be used.

    • A Hebrew name need not be directly related to the English name.

  3. An excellent resource for choosing a name is The New Name Dictionary by Alfred Kolatch.

Zoom

Parents may wish to enable family members and friends who cannot attend in person to watch the ceremony on Zoom.  I am available to facilitate a Zoom meeting by sending a link in advance and by bringing a tripod and webcam on the day of the bris.  The family is asked to provide a laptop with Zoom installed and a Wi-Fi connection.  The ceremony can be recorded and saved to your own computer to view and share.

Cost and Insurance

The cost of officiating at a bris is $900, plus the cost of garage parking if no street parking is available.  I prefer using Zelle (973-464-3999) and accept Venmo (@rabbimarkcooper), checks and cash. Upon request, I will provide an insurance receipt that can be submitted to your insurance carrier in case your policy will accept the claim as an out-of-network provider.