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The Brit Milah

"And G-d spoke to Abraham saying: ...This is my covenant which you shall keep between Me and you and thy seed after you -every male child among you shall be circumcised." (Gen. 17:12) For 3500 years, since the time of our forefather Abraham, the Jewish people have observed the ritual of circumcision as the fundamental sign of the covenant between G-d and Israel. Known in Hebrew as Brit Milah, "the Covenant of Circumcision", it is considered much more than a simple medical procedure. Brit Milah is considered the sign of a new-born child's entry into the Jewish tradition. For millennia, in every country where Jews have lived, they have always practiced this ritual, sometimes at great personal sacrifice. Perhaps more than any other ritual, Brit Milah is the ultimate affirmation of Jewish identity.

The brit milah of a healthy baby is always done on the 8th day, even Shabbat or Yom Kippur, and only during daylight hours. This 8th day is calculated to include the day of birth. If a baby is born, for example, on a Tuesday afternoon, under normally circumstances the Brit would be the following Tuesday, any time during the day. (There is a tradition to do the Brit as early in the day as possible.) A Brit of a baby delivered by caesarean section, although normally performed on the 8th day, may not be performed on the Sabbath or Jewish holiday. In this case, the Brit is delayed until the next weekday.

Reasons to delay: A Brit Milah is never performed if it poses any danger to the infant. The doctor and/or mohel's advice to delay a Brit for health reasons should always be heeded. It is the responsibility of the Mohel, in consultation with the doctor and the family, to determine if a delay is necessary according to Jewish law.

In the Torah it says that G-d changed Abraham's name from Avram to Avraham at the time of his circumcision. In keeping with that tradition, a Jewish boy is given his Hebrew name at the time of his Brit Milah. Judaism places a great deal of significance on a child's Hebrew name. It is often customary to name the child after someone who led a righteous life so that the child will try to emulate that individual. Ashkenazi Jews often name their children after a dearly departed relative, while Sephardic Jews sometimes name their children in honour of living relatives. In the case of someone who died at a young age, another name referring to life, or the name of a person who lived a full life is added.

The Brit may be performed at Bnai Abraham or in a private home with complete safety. After the Mohel has performed the brit, a special blessing is recited upon a cup of wine, and the baby is given his Hebrew name. It is customary to serve refreshments or a festive meal after the brit (all food served should be kosher), and this is considered a seudat mitzvah, part of the mitzvah.

To schedule or to make an appointment with the Rabbi, please contact Irene in the synagogue office at (610) 258-5343 or email.

Life Events - Birth of a daughter

The birth or adoption of a child is a momentous occasion that we all want to share with everyone around us. That is why Bnai Abraham offers a formal service of bringing our daughters into the world -- into the covenant with G-d -- the same as what we do for our sons, called a Simchat Bat.

Many parents name a baby girl the first Sabbath after she is born, but it’s acceptable to name her at any Torah reading that is convenient for family and friends (the Torah is read Monday and Thursday mornings as well as holidays and the Sabbath). At BAS, both parents are called up to the Torah and the child is given her name. Special blessings are said at this time for the well being of the mother, daughter and entire family.

Since there is no specific format to go by, people have created their own traditions as to when to have a “party” for the baby -- celebrate the Simchat Bat -- and what rituals, if any, are performed at the festivity. Some have a light meal after synagogue on the Sabbath in which the baby was named, while others invite family and friends to their home or to a hall on a different day to share in their joy (simcha) saying a special blessing over wine and having a festive meal (all food served should be kosher). Whichever form of celebration is followed, Jewish families are increasingly finding formal ways of expressing joy on the birth of a girl.

To schedule or to make an appointment with the Rabbi, please contact the synagogue office at (610) 258-5343 or email.