How do you calculate the ‘eighth day’?
What if the baby is born on Shabbat or Jewish holiday?
Do you need a minyan for a Bris?
How long does it (the surgery…the whole service) take?
Does it hurt the baby?
Do I use anesthesia?
Do I use EMLA?
Do I explain what is going on for those who don’t know much about it or who are not Jewish?
What do I need to get?
If I do the Bris in my house, what room should it be in?
Should the surgery be in the same room as the service?
How do I pick a Hebrew name for the baby?

How do you calculate the ‘eighth day’?
You count the day on which he is born: if he’s born on Monday, the Bris is the following Monday.  If he’s born on Monday after sundown, the Bris is the following Tuesday.  That is, the day changes at sundown and not at midnight.


What if the baby is born on Shabbat or Jewish holiday?
Jewish law states that, baby’s health permitting, we make every effort to do the Bris on the 8th day.  You are allowed to do a Bris on Shabbat if the baby was born on Shabbat (unless it was a c-section).  You are NOT allowed to get into a car and GO to a Bris on Shabbat… or cook… or smoke… or take pictures…or turn on lights.

Therefore, in Orthodox neighborhoods, when the Mohel is within walking distance of the Bris and Shabbat is observed according to Jewish law, we do the Bris on Shabbat.  But it makes little sense to fulfill one mitzvah by violating another.  When a Bris can’t be performed on Shabbat or holiday, we do it on the next available day or as soon as possible afterwards.


Do you need a minyan for a Bris?
No. Doing the Bris on the eight day is a Torah ordained law and the minyan is rabbinic in origin.  The Bris, therefore is done on the eighth day with or without a minyan.  If you have a quorum of 10 Jewish men, a different grace after meals can be said and Kaddish can be recited for someone in mourning.


How long does it (the surgery…the whole service) take?
The surgery takes about 10-15 seconds.  The service takes about 18-20 minutes.  However, remember that the baby will be on his back, held still and undressed for a few moments.  He will likely cry for those reasons alone.


Does it hurt the baby?
Research shows that the technique a Mohel uses causes less distress than the technique used by most physicians.  Distress is measured in change of heart rate, etc.  Naturally, the difference for the baby of 10-12 seconds compared to 8-10 minutes with the Gomco or Plastibel clamps that physicians often use is going to make a big difference for the baby.


Do I use anesthesia?
Yes, I personally use two topical sprays and an anesthetic ointment afterwards.  There are babies that don’t cry at all. Most will cry but 95% of them will stop crying as soon as they are diapered and picked up.  In my opinion, most of the distress is caused by the position the baby is in… and must be in … for the surgery, and the slight pinch when I take hold of the skin to begin.  When that is over quickly, the babies do fine.


Do I use EMLA?
Recently in the news, EMLA cream is a topical anesthetic that needs to be applied about an hour before the circumcision.  Aside from the potential of causing severe allergic reaction, EMLA has not been tested for use on newborns and therefore is not recommended for use on infants under one month of age.  The following is a quote from the insert that comes with the EMLA cream: “Due to the potential risk of methemoglobinemia and the lack of proven efficacy, EMLA Cream is not recommended for use prior to circumcision in pediatric patients.”


Do I explain what is going on for those who don’t know much about it or who are not Jewish?
Yes, I provide an ongoing explanation and commentary that most people find educational and enlightening.  This is a simcha (a joyous occasion) and so it must be kept light but respectful of the oldest rite of our religion.  I try to find that balance.  A little medical, a little mystical, a few stories that deepen our understanding of a most remarkable ritual.


What do I need to get?
The entire list of what you need is printed above under the heading Baby’s born? Instructions for Parents.  This is a list I would normally fax or e-mail to the new parents.  You can copy it now and get a head start if you wish.


If I do the Bris in my house, what room should it be in?
The largest room in the house is usually the best choice.  Those that don’t want to be near the surgery …won’t!  The fact is the way I set the table up, no one can see the surgery unless they make a particular effort to do so.  But, believe it or not, people are more relaxed when the surgery is not in another room, sequestered away.  The ‘unknown’ is always more stressful that the ‘known’.


Should the surgery be in the same room as the service?
Of the 18 minutes or so for the whole service, the surgery is about 2-3 minutes in the middle.  We usher the baby in, do the surgery and then finish with the naming ceremony.  It would add time and stress to all concerned to take him from the room for the 10-15 seconds of surgery. In all the years I’ve been doing this, I can tell you that no parent who wanted to take the baby out of the room and then listened to me and did it in the room EVER regretted it.


How do I pick a Hebrew name for the baby?
It’s a beautiful tradition to name a child after a relative (grandparent, great grandparent, close relative, even a dear friend).  The Ashkenazic Jews name after the deceased, the Sephardic after the living.  Rabbi Malka will be glad to help you with this selection.


Will you teach us how to care for the baby?
Of course.  After the bris, I will meet with the parents and change the baby with them (and anyone else who will be helping out such as nurse, grandparents, etc.)  I will also go over written instructions with you.  If those instructions should be misplaced, you will always have immediate access to me (through phone or email) and to the aftercare instructions on the website.

 

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