Rabbi Mark Cooper, Mohel

The Bris
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When to Call
Call me at the earliest convenient hour after giving birth at 973.464.3999 (talk and text) or 800.499.BRIS. 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 during the day on the eighth day of life, 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 should be held even 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 Need to be at a Bris?
There is no minimum requirement for attendance at a Bris. A Bris can be attended by only the parent/s, baby and the Mohel, or as many as hundreds of people. A Bris isn’t a worship service like the kind that take place in a synagogue, so no minyan is required.
Supply List
Please provide the following supplies:

• A sturdy table, about the size of a card table, covered with a white tablecloth.
• 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 (most are for aftercare).
• A large container of Vaseline (tube or tub).
• A disposable diaper and diaper wipes.
• 3- cloth diapers (“burp cloths”).
• A standard bed pillow covered with a white pillowcase.
• A kiddush cup.
• A challah.
• I bring candlesticks and candles for those who wish to do a candle lighting, but you may use your own set if you wish.
• I bring a bottle of grape juice with me, but you may use your own kosher wine or juice if you wish. The wine should be sweet, not dry.

Download the Supply List PDF.
Choosing a Name
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 family past. I can help you to choose an appropriate name. There are no exact rules that apply to Jewish naming practices. Several customs guide the choice of Hebrew/Jewish name. These include:

• Often a Hebrew name is bestowed on a child as a memorial to a loved one who has passed away.
• Jews of Ashkenazic descent typically do not give a name after a living relative.
• Either Hebrew or Yiddish names can be used.
• The Hebrew name you choose need not be directly related to the English name. (For example, a child named Joshua in English can receive the Hebrew name Reuven.)
• You can choose to give one name in memory of two deceased relatives.
• You can give a name in memory of a loved one even if someone else in your family has given another child a name in memory of the same person.
Outline of the Ceremony
A Bris most often includes these elements, though each ceremony can be customized. The entire ceremony takes about 25 minutes from start to finish. The English readings I provide are optional.

1. Candle lighting, with an optional English reading. No Hebrew blessing is recited.
2. The baby is brought into the room where the ceremony is taking place.
3. I present a concise commentary on the purpose of the ceremony. Readings that are personalized for your family can be added in this section of the ceremony.
4. The Chair of Elijah. This special Bris tradition represents our people’s yearning for the world to be a place of blessing, peace and tolerance. An honored family member of friend sits in a chair with a special cover that I bring and a special reading can be offered.
5. The parents are guided to affirm that they will embrace the sacred, time honored role of raising a Jewish child and officially designate me as their “agent” to perform the ritual of circumcision on their behalf.
6. The ritual of circumcision is performed quickly.
7. The baby is named through the recitation of Hebrew and English prayers.
8. Parents and/or grandparents may offer reflections on this special time in life or the meaning of the names chosen for the baby.
9. The celebratory meal (Seudat Mitzvah in Hebrew) begins with the recitation of the “Motsi” (blessing over the bread).
These are the opportunities for family members and friends to participate in the Bris:

Candle Lighting - Lights the candles to begin the ceremony. This honor may be done by one or more people. An optional English reading may be included.
Kvater (if a male) or Kvaterin (if a female) - Brings the baby into the room or area where the ceremony will take place. The baby is either held by one person with others walking along, or he can be passed while resting on the pillow from one person to the next. This honor may be done by one or more people.
Chair of Elijah - Sits on a chair adorned with a special cover that designates it as the Chair of Elijah with the baby on a pillow on his/her lap. This honor, including an optional English reading, may be done by one or more people.
Sandek - Sits opposite me and gently holds the baby during the actual circumcision. This honor may be done by only one person.
Sandek for the Naming - Holds the baby while the naming prayers are said. This honor may be done by one or two people.
Motsi - Recites the "motsi" or prayer over bread at the meal which usually follows the ceremony.

Download the Participant List PDF.
Blessings and Readings

Parents' Blessing

Baruch ata Adonai eloheinu melech ha-olam asher kidshanu be-mitzvotav ve-tzivanu le-hachniso biv'rito shel Avraham avinu.

• Praised are You, Adonai, our God, Sovereign of the Universe, whose commandments sanctify our lives and who has inspired us to welcome our newborn son into the family of the Jewish people.

• Baruch ata Adonai eloheinu melech ha-olam ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz.

• Praised are You, Adonai, our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Reading upon lighting the candles - There is a new light in our hearts and our home. These candles celebrate the birth of our son. Blessed are those who are privileged to bring a child into the world for they make a bridge between heaven and earth. Child of light, we greet you with love and joy overflowing from our hearts.

Parents’ Reading #1 - We have been blessed with the awesome responsibility of raising our newborn son. We pray for wisdom and guidance as we teach him to become a caring and loving person. Dear Child, as you grow may the Hebrew name we give you today add meaning to your life. May the legacy of those who have come before you light your path and guide your steps. We dedicate you to Torah, to a never-ending fascination with study and learning. We dedicate you to never ending growth as a human being capable of giving and receiving love. We dedicate you to a never-ending concern for family and community, justice and charity. Today we affirm our desire to create a Jewish home and to live a life of compassion for others, in the hope that you will learn from our example.

Parents’ Reading #2 - We affirm that we will strive to embrace the sacred and time-honored role of creating a Jewish home for our son. We will strive to continue to make our home a place where this child will learn of his Jewish identity and be inspired to make his life more deeply meaningful, and the world a place of greater harmony and blessing, in the name of the Jewish traditions that we will teach him.

Grandparents’ Reading - We are thankful for the many joys that have blessed our lives. Now this wonderful moment has happened- a new life, a new child to love, the opening of a new chapter in the chronicle of our family’s existence. May our grandson grow in health and happiness and become a blessing to us all. May our children, parents themselves, find joy in the years that lie ahead. And may we be granted the joy of seeing our new grandson grow and flourish. Then our prayer to You, O God, shall have found its answer: the days and years to come shall be for us times of peace, wondrous fulfillment, great joy and happiness.

Reading for the Chair of Elijah - May this child’s world become a place of peace and goodness, righteousness and harmony during his lifetime. May he grow to be sensitive to the injustices and inequities he will encounter. May he inspire and motivate the members of his generation to work with him to transform our world into the place of holiness that it can and should be. And may we, who gather here today at the very beginning of his life, merit the special privilege of living to see that miracle come to pass in our own lifetimes.

Download the Readings and Blessings PDF.
Aftercare Instructions
Caring for your baby following circumcision is easy. During the days following the circumcision you may see several things on the penis, all of which are considered normal. All of these conditions will resolve themselves within a week or less.

• The head of the penis will likely be red or purple in color due to the fact that it has not come into contact with light or air until the time of circumcision.
• During the first day a slight discharge of bloody fluid (about the size of a dime or smaller) may be visible on the gauze pad covering the penis, or perhaps in the diaper.
• There may be some swelling of the softer tissue below the head of the penis.
• There may be secretion of mucous that accumulates on the head or shaft of the penis which will look like scabs or bumps that are off-white or gray in color. The secretion might look like pus, but it is not. Do not attempt to remove it from the penis, since doing so might cause discomfort. Just leave it alone and it will go away.
• Begin the post-circumcision procedure with the first diaper you change after the Bris and continue it for three full days (72 hours).
• Place a generous amount of Vaseline (about the size of a large olive) on a fresh 3x3 gauze pad. Spread the Vaseline from edge to edge evenly on the gauze pad. With the penis pointing downward (resting on the scrotum) place the Vaseline coated gauze pad over the penis to form a barrier between the penis and the diaper. Do not wrap or bandage the penis with the gauze pad.
• Do not clean the penis with a diaper wipe.
• You may begin bathing your baby after discontinuing the gauze pad applications, provided that the umbilical cord stump has fallen off.

If you see something that you would like to have explained, please do not hesitate to call me at 800.499.BRIS or text me at 973.464.3999. I am available 24/7 to answer your questions.

Download the Aftercare Instructions PDF.