The Yorkshire Mohel
Ancient Tradition, Modern Standards
Congratulations (Mazel Tov) on the birth or the expected arrival of your son. I am a full time GP and a mohel (ritual circumciser) for the UK Progressive Jewish community.
Your son's B'rit Milah (circumcision) can be performed at a location of your choice, including at your home.
Please take the time to read through this site, as some points will require discussion and action on your part prior to the circumcision.
I also offer circumcision to non-Jewish babies at parental request.
Please contact me if you have any questions.
I look forward to meeting you.
B'rit Milah and your baby
B'rit Milah (Covenant of Circumcision), is a key life cycle observance for a Jewish family. By performing the circumcision we are celebrating and remembering God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants.
The Mohel (the ritual circumciser) will gather everyone together and explain the significance of the B'rit. The baby will then be carried in to the room by his Kvaterin (or Godmother) and handed to his Kvater (or Godfather), whilst the opening prayers are said. The baby is then passed to the Sandek, who will hold him on his lap whilst the circumcision is performed.
Usually the Sandek has a pillow on his lap, covered by a towel and will sit opposite to the Mohel on two dining room chairs (without arms). A small table next to the chairs for the Mohel’s instruments and the Kiddush wine is useful.
The circumcision usually takes two or three minutes, including the time to put a dressing on.
After the circumcision, further prayers are said, including a blessing over wine and the naming of the baby.
Who Can Do What
The baby’s parents can choose who does what.
Traditionally, the Sandek is a Jewish man, but not the father - often a grandfather or uncle of the baby is chosen. The honour should be shared out: if a suitable man has not been a Sandek before, he should be offered the honour.
The Kvater and Kvaterin are usually a Jewish couple who have not yet had their own children.
An All Male Event?
Liberal and Reform communities encourage each person to be present or not according to their choice, regardless of gender. Similarly, the mother and father choose whether to stay in the room or leave. Some people are anxious about staying but most are, in the end, glad that they were present.
Hebrew or English?
The prayers will combine Hebrew and English. Parents can read their parts independently or can follow the Mohel.
The baby’s names?
The Hebrew name of the baby will be given at the B'rit. This should be chosen beforehand.
Do we have to have a party?
The B'rit is a simcha (a joyful event), and guests are usually fed and watered. However, the top priority is the welfare of the baby and his parents. I advise parents to delegate the catering and entertaining to relatives and leave themselves free to support each other and their son.
Pros and Cons of Neonatal Circumcision
Before undertaking your son’s circumcision I will require both parents to sign a simple consent form. To help you do this I have summarised the available information of potential complications and indicated their likelihood. The figures are taken from a continuing audit of all circumcisions undertaken by members of the Reform & Liberal Association of Mohalim, these figures are updated annually.
I would like to emphasise that circumcision is a straightforward operation undertaken using a well proven and established method. Complication rates are low when compared to other surgical procedures and when they do occur can be sorted out promptly with minimal distress to the child or his parents.
Some bleeding always occurs after circumcision and I will give you clear verbal and written instructions as to when the bleeding may be thought to be excessive. Bleeding of a degree sufficient to need the baby to be seen again in the first 24 hours occurs in between 2 and 3 % of circumcisions that were not stitched at the time of the operation. (14 of 573 (2.4%) in our audit).
Although the wound may occasionally become sticky after circumcision, true infection requiring treatment is rare. One in our audit of 933 circumcisions. I will tell you what to watch for.
3. Cosmetic outcome
Circumcision is a cosmetic procedure. Occasionally the final appearance of the penis may give rise to concern. In our audit 1.4% (13 in 933) were felt to be a cause of concern by the participating doctors. Usually these improve over time but occasionally will need to be re-done at a later date, 9 such re-dos out of 933 circumcisions were reported in the audit.
I hope that this information is useful in making an informed choice regarding your son’s circumcision. I would be happy to answer any further points when we meet.
In accordance with General Medical Council Guidelines doctors undertaking male circumcisions are now required to gain written consent from the baby’s parents for the procedure.