Mazel Tov! You have a new son. There are so many emotions happening at the same time – and you have to also prepare for your son’s brit milah in 8 days. Among your main priorities are selecting the mohel (or mohelet) to officiate the ceremony and perform the brit milah, and deciding where to have it.
Many families choose to either have the bris at their home or in their temple’s event space. You can view possible Bris Venues Here. To help you determine whether to have the ceremony at home or in your synagogue, we asked Rabbi Nechemia Markovits, a mohel who has almost 3 decades of experience, to share some of his thoughts. Rabbi Markovits is an Orthodox rabbi who performs ritual circumcisions for Jews (and non-Jews) of all affiliations and backgrounds.
Mazelmoments: With so many new emotions, experiences and changes awaiting first-time parents, we’d like some of your expert recommendations regarding the bris. With little time to prepare for the bris following the birth of the son, your reservoir of expertise would be helpful and informative to first-time parents of sons.
As a mohel, what should the parents consider when making their choice of venue for the bris?
Rabbi Markovits: Most families have the Bris where it’s most comfortable for them. Just make sure that whatever venue you choose will have an area designated for the ceremony and ample seating space to accommodate your guests.
Take into consideration that it is preferable for the bris to be held in presence of a minyan (at least ten Jewish males over the age of thirteen), but it is not necessary. (Note from mazelmoments – Conservative and Reform movements will also count women among the 10 Jewish attendees, but as Rabbi Markovits mentions, a minyan is not necessary.)
In considering the choice of venue for the bris you should take into consideration the following:
- Traditional communities often perform the bris in the context of daily morning services. Therefore on weekdays the bris is usually held early in the morning at the synagogue.
- In this setup, family and friends can participate and still make it to work on time.
- A synagogue bris can be held later in the day as well, especially on holidays and weekends.
- Consider that the guests invited to a synagogue venue will need to dress for the place, compared to a bris at home where the attire will be a bit more casual.
- A synagogue setting may be more convenient for parents since they don’t need to worry about preparing several things for the ceremony, including a designated table for the Bris Milah instruments, two chairs (one for the Sandek, and one for the Throne of Elijah), Kiseh shel Eliyahu, Tallis (prayer shawl), Kippot (yarmulkes) for your guests, etc.
- A synagogue will usually have an event hall for the “Seudas mitzvah” Kiddush or a Meal.
- If your home is large enough to accommodate your guests or if you choose to make it a small private family affair, a home setting is perfect.
- A bris at home is easier for the mother and for the baby; it saves you traveling, which may be unsettling for a newborn. Being at home immediately after the bris is good for the comfort of your baby.
- No need to pack up formulas, diapers, wipes or other baby accessories.
- With a home bris you can feed your baby in the privacy and comfort of your own home, and you can use your own changing table and facilities.
- You should designate a space with good lighting in your home for the bris.
- You will need to prepare a sturdy table for the Bris Milah instruments.
- Contact your rabbi or mohel for help in preparing items you may not have handy.
One last tip from Rabbi Markovits – “Relax, don’t be nervous! You should only get nervous when/if I’m nervous – then you know there is a problem!”
Thank you Rabbi Markovits for sharing your thoughts and suggestions!