Here you will find a wealth of information about the Brit Milah (or Bris) ceremony for boys, and the Baby Naming (Simchat Bat or Zeved Habat) ceremony for girls. Much of this information is repeated in different ways throughout the web site. I hope it will give you a good sense about my philosophy and approach to these beautiful rituals.
Covid-19 and Brisses: Update: 6/3/20
I hope you and your family are safe and well. I extend my condolences to all those who have lost loved ones due to the coronavirus and wish a speedy and complete recovery to those who are currently suffering with COVID-19. Even though we are several months in, please remember to thank all of the people who are on the front lines and who continue to help us every day. And we pray for the memory of George Floyd and extend our deepest condolences to his family. May we all find physical and spiritual healing in these very difficult times.
What a difference a few weeks makes. Things are getting better. More people are scheduling Brisses and more people are attending Brisses. Up until recently, it was only the parents, the baby and me. Now some of the grandparents are attending. Some of the Brisses are being held outdoors with proper social distancing and masks. As long as the weather cooperates, that’s fine. But, we still have to be careful.
I was tested for Covid-19 on April 17, May 6 and June 3 and am pleased to report that all of the results came back negative. I was tested for the antibodies—also negative.
My goal remains to maximize the safety and minimize the risk for everyone involved. I would like you to be confident in the steps I am taking when it comes to performing Brisses during the Covid-19 pandemic. I continue to maintain and follow the strictest standards. I have all of the necessary PPE equipment. For now, the following protocols are still in place for Bris families:
As a precaution, I am still limiting the number of Brisses I perform per day. I continue to reevaluate the situation on a week-to-week basis. In the event that I receive more requests than I am able to perform in any given day, please let me know if you are willing to delay your son’s bris a day or two so I can accommodate as many families as possible, as safely as possible.
If your baby was circumcised in the hospital or did not have a proper Bris performed by a certified rabbi or cantor mohel, he will need a Hatafat Dam Bris to turn that circumcision into a Bris. Remember, if you don’t do that for your son, it may impede his ability to have a Bar-Mitzvah or get married someday. While you may not keep a kosher home or observe the Sabbath or holidays, if your son decides to follow a more traditional Jewish path in life, this will remove any obstacles. You will receive a certificate attesting that a Hatafat Dam Bris was performed and that your son was properly entered into the Covenant of Abraham.
I had the privilege of performing a Hatafat Dam Bris ceremony for a family recently and they sent me the following email:
My spouse and I are an interfaith couple and it was important to us, from the time we knew we were having a boy, that our son receive a bris milah. As his due date approached, the COVID-19 pandemic took off in our area and we were uncertain about whether we would be able to have a bris at all or whether we would need to have our son circumcised in the hospital. After reading Cantor Sherman’s guidance on his Facebook page, we decided that rather than run the risk a bris could not be performed on our son’s eighth day of life and he would instead need to be circumcised under general anesthesia when he is one year old, we would circumcise him in the hospital and ask Cantor Sherman to perform a hatafat dam bris some time later.
When my son was one month old, Cantor Sherman came to our home and performed the hatafat dam bris with both sets of grandparents present and participating in the honors. Our friends and family joined via videoconference. The bris went off without a hitch thanks to Cantor Sherman. He arrived before our meeting time, followed strict sanitary and hygiene procedures, and walked us and our family through the process before we started the ceremony. He also helped us figure out where to set up the videoconference laptop so that our virtual guests could get the best view possible. Cantor Sherman’s experience and professionalism were abundantly clear throughout the entire ceremony—everything went smoothly and my son did not cry at all, not even when his circumcision site was pricked and blood was drawn. Our virtual guests, many of whom were not Jewish, commented later that they felt Cantor Sherman explained the ceremony and its meaning very well and, despite the physical distance, they felt they were participating in our joyful celebration. My spouse and I would wholeheartedly recommend Cantor Sherman to serve as a mohel for other families.
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If you would like information about Brisses or Baby Naming ceremonies for girls, please email me. I will send you additional information to help you prepare for those joyous events. If you had your baby, Mazel Tov! If you are expecting a baby, best wishes for an easy delivery and a beautiful, healthy baby. I look forward to seeing you at a simcha (happy occasion) soon!
Cantor Philip L. Sherman
Please visit my Facebook page (Cantor Philip L. Sherman, Mohel) for updated postings related to the Covid-19 pandemic.