The ‘Brit Milah’ or Bris for short, is the ceremony that Jewish people have been having for new born boys for centuries. The literal translation for this very important ceremony is the ‘covenant of the circumcision.’ Whether you have been invited to a Bris or you will be hosting one, there are certain details to keep in mind, so that everything runs smoothly for the guests and the family hosting the ceremony. This religious ritual is by far the oldest religious practice still being performed today.
The ‘Brit Milah’ can be traced all the way back to Abraham, who according to Jewish scholars was the first Jewish person of record. Abraham entered into an agreement with God, and part of that agreement was that Abraham and all of his male descendants must be circumcised. Since the time of Abraham, Jewish males have been going through this ritual where the foreskin of the penis is removed. Although the circumcision started out as a Jewish ritual thousands of years ago, most males born in the world have this procedure done before they leave the hospital, for health and hygiene reasons.
Jewish law requires that the Brit Milah is conducted on day eight of the baby’s life. Although the experience of having a circumcision seems a bit traumatic, since it’s done so early the baby will have no memory of the experience and hence no lasting emotional scars from it.
A Jewish person who has proper medical training and training in Jewish law, is authorized to physically perform the circumcision. The person who performs the circumcision is called a Mohel. If there are no men available to perform the circumcision, a Jewish woman who is medically trained and trained in Jewish law, can also perform the circumcision. The Bris is considered a very major event in a boy’s life, it’s the time when he is welcomed into the faith of his ancestors and will experience a Jewish ritual that all of his male ancestors also experienced. It’s a time of celebration, and there will be lots of food at a Bris. Invited guests and family usually bring a present that the baby can use, like clothing or toys.
This joyous celebration is often times the first time family and friends will get to meet the newest family member. Often times the expectant parents don’t really start actually doing a lot of prep work for the Bris before the baby is born. The reason for this is because many believe it could bring bad luck. However because there will not be a lot of time once the baby is born, many people start getting referrals and alert certain vendors of possible dates when the ceremony will take place.
A lot of parents do not release the name of the baby until the Bris. By doing this, it gives the Brit Milah even more meaning. There is no hard and fast rule about where the Bris has to take place.
Some people have the Bris at their home, or a relative’s home. Others have it at a synagogue or a restaurant. Many people chose the appropriate location that can accommodate the number of guests they will have. Sometimes the mother will mingle with the guests, but not always. Keeping in mind that the mother just gave birth in the last few days, and may not yet feel well enough to socializing with a lot of people. After the circumcision is done, that is when the religious prayers are said and the baby’s name is revealed.
It’s a festive joyous celebration for every family, something the entire family will cherish for many years to come.