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Welcome to -  the most comprehensive and up to date mohel blog on the internet . My name is Avi Billet, and I am so ...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sterilize and Reuse or Disposable?

I was recently asked how I sterilize my equipment (answer: autoclave, except for the scalpel blades which are used once and discarded), and if I was open to the parents buying their own set of instruments for the bris for one time use to be disposed of afterwards?

Answer: I am open to it - by all means! As long as it is an expense the parents want to bear.

There are different companies outside of the USA who specialize in providing such merchandise/ equipment. It works in Europe. But I don't know how popular such an approach would be in this country.

Most people want to pay an all inclusive honorarium (however that is calculated) to a mohel, and don't want to bother with added expenses.

Of course, if a mohel wants to open such a possibility to parents, I suppose parents who want to could go the route of buying these things themselves.

Here are a couple of kits I found online. If you are interested - good luck with your purchase! [This one is clearly marketed to mohels... but give a call!]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

News Monitor: Israel and Europe has a number of articles on the role Europe is taking in the modern circumcision debate.

Here is the latest.

Shas, Yesh Atid MKs unite in fighting European anti-circumcision measure
12/10/2013 13:11
In a rare case of cooperation, Knesset members from both factions to head to Paris to battle resolution.
Baby undergoes circumcision Photo: REUTERS
In a rare case of cooperation between Shas and Yesh Atid, MKs headed to the Council of Europe’s Presidium in Paris Tuesday evening to continue battling anti-circumcision measures on the continent.
MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu) led the delegation, which includes MKs Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) and Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid), to fight a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE ) resolution protecting children’s rights to their bodies. The measure – proposed by German MP Marlene Ruprecht and passed on October 1 – could be understood as banning ritual male circumcision for children, along with female circumcision, tattoos and body piercing for those under 18.

The initiative is non-binding, but member states take PACE votes seriously. The Knesset has made significant efforts to collect signatures from European parliamentarians on a counter- resolution it seeks to pass in April, reaching 102 signatures as opposed to 77 MPs who voted for the anti-circumcision measure.
The Rivlin-led delegation will meet with leaders of four of the Council of Europe’s five factions to convince them to put the Knesset’s counter-resolution on the PACE agenda for either late January or April. The Presidium, which consists of faction chairpeople, will set the agenda for those two meetings on December 15.
According to Rivlin, the anti-circumcision measure “is not a legitimate decision, and it is a joint goal of Jews, Muslims and anyone who believes in freedom of religion and conscience to cancel it.”
Rivlin, Vaknin and Hoffman plan to meet with party leaders and members of the Council of Europe’s Presidium and present them with the 102 signatures from PACE members, aiming to show that the original measure was passed unfairly when only a small number of MPs were present.
The Likud Beytenu MK expressed concern that parliaments in Europe would adopt the resolution and expand it to other religious customs, such as kosher slaughter, which is illegal in several European states.
“We want to make it clear to the Europeans that even if it’s legitimate for them to intervene in diplomatic or regional issues, it is not legitimate for them to be involved in Judaism and freedom of religion,” Rivlin added.
In their meetings with European MPs, MKs used research by the American Pediatric Association touting the health benefits of circumcision – including halving the risk of contracting HIV through intercourse – to show that the procedure is not a danger to children. They also cited studies by ethicists showing that it is not an ethical issue for a parent to circumcise a boy for his future benefit, even if he does not have a say in the matter.
In addition, last month, The Journal of Sexual Medicine published a peer-reviewed study by researchers at the University of Sydney proving circumcision does not reduce sexual pleasure.
Rivlin, Vaknin and Hoffman will also attend a meeting of PACE ’s Diplomatic Committee on the status of the Palestinian delegation, which was declared a “partner for democracy” two years ago. In addition, they will meet with French MPs and members of the Jewish community in Paris.

Bringing Kids To A Bris

Obviously the baby...

At what age is it appropriate for a child to attend a bris?

I think any age is appropriate to be there for the celebration and party. The question is really about what they need to know and where they need to be during the circumcision portion of the event.

For whatever reason, children gravitate towards the scene of the action. While this is a good quality to have, it is probably not the best thing at a bris. The baby is crying, surgical instruments are being used, and of course, the act of circumcision itself (removal of the foreskin) is not the visual a child needs to have in his or her brain.

I always instruct kids under 12 or 13 to move back, which they typically do begrudgingly.

If they are a little older, I try to judge - in my brief interaction with them - if they are acting maturely and can stomach what will take place. If yes and yes, they can stay. If not, then I politely but firmly request that they move further back.

As far as younger children goes, parents are very creative in explaining to them what is taking place.

I personally prefer honesty, but you have to know your child and what s/he will understand.

"We are going to the party for the baby." (not enough information)
"We have a special mitzvah to remove a small piece of skin from the baby."
"A rabbi/dr/man called a "mohel" is going to do this. The baby will cry a little, but he's going to be OK."

To a boy some parents add, "You had a bris when you were a baby, at the same age. Do you remember it? Did you even know that you had that happen?"

Most kids don't push much more. They were curious, the question was answered - it is honest and correct, without giving too much information that might scare a child.

Of course once the circumcision is over and the baby is out of the room, no explanation is needed to enjoy a party! Cheers!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Awareness Factor

Parents of a new baby have different approaches to hiring a mohel.

Some call the mohel based on the recommendation of friends. They have no questions. Their friend had a good experience and they want the same. 

Some call many mohels, ask a few questions to each, and try to find the mohel that best fits their needs.

Parents who have been through the bris process before - whether once, twice, or more - more or less know from experience what they want the bris to be like. If they were satisfied in earlier brisses, they'll call their mohel back each time. (Unless they've moved states, or he's moved! Though I've had a number of people call me from NY, my old stomping grounds, and I still go back there on occasion for repeat customers)

In this past week alone, I've met with a couple of families dealing with their third boy (I did not do any of their previous brisses), and they articulated to me why they called me this time.

Their concerns included that a previous mohel did not and refused to wear gloves
They were unsatisfied with a previous mohel's standards of cleanliness and sterility
They wanted to understand metzitzah and why previous mohels insisted on doing it the way which does not conform to their sensibilities (see also here and here)
One wanted to know if I use a clamp.    I do not.

ASKING IS ALWAYS THE BEST POLICY. Here are links from the Topical Index about important questions to raise before the bris

FAQ - Summary (links to answers to the questions) - Shorter Answers Appear in a Link at the top of the page
Inquiries Welcome

GOOD LUCK WITH EVERYTHING! Be in touch with your inquiries!