Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Sensitivity Factor

I've been asked by many people, "Why should I hire you? What do you differently than any other mohel?"


But after some of the more recent experiences I've had with some sensitive situations, and the feedback I've received, what people have told me they found most helpful about my services is the calming demeanor and the "knowing the right thing to say" manner I bring to their unique circumstance.

Honestly, I am a results guy. I want the circumcision to look as perfect as I can, and I want the baby to be in a good place in his post-bris healing the last time I see him (which is usually one post-bris visit).

But there is so much more to what is going on than just the baby's circumcision. There is post-partum mother, and, in many cases, a nervous father. If this is their first child (but also if it's the first son after a girl or only girls) there is the added "This is totally new for us" factor, 

And people need to know...

that everything will be OK, 
that we have thousands upon thousands of Jewish boys born every year, 
that the baby will cry during the bris.
that circumcision causes a little bit of bleeding.

AND also that
your baby is in good hands
other than you right now, no one cares for your baby's well being more than I do

And all this will be explained to you in a calm manner, in a sensitive manner, in a way that will put you at ease, and will hopefully leave you feeling (as the couple from this morning's bris told me) that your questions and concerns are also my concerns, and that they were answered, and that you were given the attention you need and deserve in the events surrounding the bris of your son. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When Does the Delayed Bris Take Place?

The reasons why a bris might be delayed are mentioned here.

The specific points to consider are addressed here

I got a call Sunday night from a father whose newborn son had finally come home from the hospital after having been there for over a month on account of his premature birth.

He wanted to schedule the bris for a week later, because that was what he had been told to do.

(The following is my summary of our conversation, the quotes are not actual)

Did your baby have complications? No. He needed to learn how to do things, but he's been fine for a while.

Why was he in the hospital so long? He wasn't eating well, he needed to gain weight.

Was he ever "sick"? No. He needed to grow into himself.

All this information led me to understand that the baby did not fall into the "choleh b'khol haguf" (systemic illness) category. It was a matter of maturity.

Then he told me that the doctors felt the baby could have circumcised while still in the hospital, if the parents had wanted such. Which meant he'd had medical clearance for a while.

With an understanding of the medical side, and an understanding of the halakhic side, we discussed options for when to have the bris, and when to have the "celebration party." I told the father that when a baby is ready for his bris, the appropriate thing is to do it as soon as possible. Could a preemie wait a few more days? Yes. But it's not necessary to do so.

The bris ended up taking place the following afternoon after our conversation, with a small, yet respectable - mostly family and very close friends - crowd. The family will have a bigger party as a combination homecoming and post-bris celebration, after the holidays.

MAZAL TOV!

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Promise Fulfilled

I did a bris for a very sweet family (the baby's parents are very chilled out - I love that!) 2 and a half years ago, and blogged about my reflections on a conversation I had at the time with the baby's grandfather. 

At that bris, the baby's father had requested that his father, a urologist by profession, be the one to actually do the circumcision - with me being the facilitator and bandager.

Which I happily did at that time.

The baby's father watched his own father do the bris, and when he saw how simple it is to do, once everything has been set up properly, he spontaneously called out, "THAT'S IT?! I'M going to do it NEXT TIME!"

When he called me last week, I reminded him of his spontaneous comment at the previous bris. And that I'd been telling the story for 2 and a half years.

With a reminder and a nudge, he fulfilled his promise today, and served as mohel for his third son - with complete support of his wonderful wife.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Beautiful Bris Story

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/184689#.VBaHHH-9KK0

A couple chose to have the bris for their baby in a new yishuv that was established immediately after the murder of Gilad She'ar, Naftali Fraenkel, and Eyal Yifrach became known.

See pictures at the link above.  Here is the text of the article:

About two months after Givat Oz veGaon was established, in memory of the three youths Gilad Sha'ar, Eyal Yifrah, and Naftali Frenkel hy"d, a moving event was held on the hill - the first brit milah (ritual circumcision) ceremony in the forest, which is situated facing the Gush Etzion junction.

David and Ilana Brenner, residents of Elazar in Gush Etzion, invited their guests, relatives, and the mohel to Givat Oz veGaon, where the ceremony was conducted. The baby, who became part of the renewed history of Gush Etzion, was named Oz Michael.

The baby's grandmother, Naomi Brenner, one of those expelled from Yamit, emotionally summed up the event.
"We felt a special atmosphere here, in the place that is named after the precious boys who fell," she said. "A brit symbolizes continuity. We look at one another here with joy, and the desire to be in Eretz Israel."

The baby's grandfather, Igor Tofeld, added, "This isn't just a moving event because we gathered in this place. This is our first grandchild, and I am very happy that Ilana and David chose this location. This symbolizes that the people of Israel lives, and that with all that has happened, we will be victorious."

The mohel, Rabbi Hayyim Moshe Weisberg, too, expressed his emotion at performing the first brit at a new Jewish site.

Oz veGaon  was first settled by members of Women in Green and the Zionist Midrasha, the night after the murder became known.
In the days and weeks that have passed since then, many youth and visitors from all over Israel have come to the hill, that is next to the site of the kidnapping.
They renovated and restored the site, and started to establish the infrastructure needed to turn it into a regional tourism center.

"The preserve was established to continue life in Eretz Israel, give a living soul and provide a constant Jewish presence at another location in Gush Etzion. It therefore was only natural for the family to conduct their first son's brit here, in the Oz veGaon preserve, and to call their baby Oz Michael," say the heads of Women in Green, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar. They add that "the phrase 'In your blood live' [recited during the brit ceremony] received redoubled significance here."

The two, as well as the activists and supporters from among the nearby communities and the members of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, call upon the public at large "to conduct events at the site, to enjoy the beautiful forest and the facilities that have been established, and to strengthen the Jewish presence."


It's Worth A Phone Call

Someone from NY recently told me of a negative story they had with their bris. Details are not important - while the episode is forgettable, the baby is ok - which is the most important thing.

When the story was recounted, the person said, "We wish you could have been the mohel."

To which I said, "Then why didn't you call?"

"O. We thought you wouldn't be interested in traveling."

Au contraire!

Certainly there are times when my schedule does not allow for me to make a trip. But I enjoy traveling for a bris, and I make every effort to to attend the Brisses that are a flight away! because those trips are the most fun for me on a personal level.

As for cost - don't worry about it. If it's not feasible because of the airline flight, we'll discuss that. But a standard budget for a bris usually adequately covers the travel and bris expenses.

So pick up the phone and call me, and let's discuss the options - as we AVOID the negative stories due to my overprotective approach to doing the bris on time and giving the baby the best possible care. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Wild Opinion Piece

Haaretz published an opinion piece that is so wild, it is indicative of where some elements of the Jewish world are headed. (Reproduced below in case it gets lost behind a paywall.)

  A few false assumptions at the end (the suggested paradox), and then of course, this line:
 Here are the facts: there is no Jewish death penalty. We do not put out eyes or cut off hands. There are no rabbinic executioners, or people who amputate limbs for violations of Jewish law. All that are left are the mohalim – those who are specially trained to perform circumcisions." 
 We never put out eyes or cut off hands in all of our history (an eye for an eye was always interpreted to be a monetary punishment). And the Talmud flatly rejects death penalties, for all cases except murder, and even winces at the suggestion that we have such a right in murder cases.

But there is no evidence anywhere prior to the advent of Reform Jewry (which today has Berit Milah Boards and hundreds of certified mohels) as well as post-modern liberal (read emotional and not intellectual or religious) "Jewish" thinking which supported such a notion that Bris Milah is to be rejected. The Talmud unabashedly praised Bris Milah assigning it numerous Covenants, blessings and rewards, as well as saying that when the Jewish people sacrificed for it (as we have for millenia), it was maintained in our ranks.

  The Covenant has always reigned supreme.

The Special Role of Mohel

Of the last few brisses I have performed, a number of them have been for people I have known for a very long time. Of the fathers: A friend from college (15 years), a former camper of mine (18 years (though I know the mother's family for almost 30 years)), family friends (I know the father since he was 6 - for over 20 years).

Being brought into the family circle when I'm already in the family circle is super special. Not too many people know their mohel personally. And the truth is, it it probably awkward for people to make the phone call out of the blue to a person who is in this line of work.

But as my college friend remarked at his son's bris - when he first found out I was a mohel (I already was when we were in college), all he could think was (long before he was married, and long before any child was on the way) "You are never going near my child." And now, all he could think was, "I wouldn't want anyone else to serve as my son's mohel."

It is ALWAYS an honor to serve. I try to get to know everyone in the time I spend with every family. Some families are very straightforward. Some families have an infectious sense of humor. Some like to hear as much information as I can provide. Some have very few questions and are very trusting. Some are more nervous. Some are chilled out.

Having a very long history with people brings the relationship to a whole new level. And thank God for social media, I maintain contact with people now in ways that was more difficult before.

But it is such an honor, every time I meet people with their son(s) and they introduce the boy with a smile and say, "He was your mohel. Do you remember him?" I usually do, the boy usually does not. Knowing that I was able to help the father with his "shlichut" (agency) to help him fulfill his mitzvah, and that it is something which is forever remembered and appreciated, is a gift that is hard to top.

Thank you for the privilege!