- • What is a Bris?
A bris is a Jewish birth ceremony during which a baby boy is brought into the Covenant of the Jewish people. Bris is the Hebrew word for covenant. The complete ceremony includes circumcision and is also called Bris Milah (Covenant of Circumcision).
- • What is the meaning of the Covenant?
The Covenant between God and the Jewish people is nearly 4,000 years old. Abraham promised God that he and all of his descendants would follow a special way of life and try to make the world a better place for all people. By entering our sons into this Covenant we affirm that, as Jews, they have a sacred obligation to improve the world.
- • Why have a bris?
The parents link their son to thousands of years of Jewish heritage. From the very beginning, the baby's Jewish identity is affirmed. The brit is the beginning of a Jewish journey that will last a lifetime..
- • Can our son be circumcised in the hospital and still have a bris?
A circumcision done in a hospital is a medical procedure and not a bris. When done as part of a bris, the circumcision is a religious ritual sanctified with the recitation of blessings.
- • What if one of the parents is not Jewish?
If the mother is Jewish then, according to all Jewish authorities, the baby is Jewish and should have a bris on the eighth day of life.
• What happens at a bris?
A bris ceremony usually takes 15-20 minutes with the actual circumcision lasting only a minute or two. We begin with the the baby brought into the room on a pillow. At this point, Rabbi Fromowitz offers an explanation of the meaning of the Bris Milah ceremony. Then, the baby is placed on the Chair of Elijah, symbolizing the prayer that the baby grow up in a world of peace and righteousness. The circumcision takes place next, after which the baby receives his Jewish name. At the conclusion of the Bris it is customary to share a meal of celebration.
- • How can we personalize the ceremony?
Rabbi Fromowitz will allow you to make any personal comments you like about this very exciting and moving time of life. If you prefer, he can provide you with a scripted ceremony which can be read by family members and/or all those present.
The History of Bris Milah
"And G-d spoke to Abraham saying: ...This is my covenant which you shall keep between Me and you and thy seed after you -every male child among you shall be circumcised." (Gen. 17:12) For 3500 years, since the time of our forefather Abraham, the Jewish people have observed the ritual of circumcision as the fundamental sign of the covenant between G-d and Israel. Known in Hebrew as Brit Milah, "the Covenant of Circumcision", it is considered much more than a simple medical procedure. Brit Milah is considered the sign of a new-born child's entry into the Jewish tradition. For millennia, in every country where Jews have lived, they have always practiced this ritual, sometimes at great personal sacrifice.
More than any other Jewish ritual, the Bris Milah represents Jewish identity. The circumcision, a permanent mark in the male organ of procreation, is performed as a symbol of our commitment to transmit our values to the next generation. Through ritual circumcision, parents create with their precious child yet another link in the continuing chain of our people that has proudly survived the challenges to its physical and spiritual existence over thousands of years.
Bris Milah, performed according to Jewish tradition, is a wonderful beginning for a new-born child. It is a warm and memorable experience, replete with significance and meaning for all those involved - the first of many milestones and happy occasions to be joyously celebrated during the child's life, as he grows to be a source of nachas to his family and to klal Yisrael, all the Jewish people.
Rabbi Fromowitz is dedicated to making Bris Milah a meaningful experience and to helping people learn and appreciate that Judaism is a wonderful and enriching way of life. Each bris is given the special attention it deserves. Feel free to call in advance of giving birth to discuss this most important Jewish experience.