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!
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
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