Brit Milah is the name of the sacred ceremony by which Jews welcome their newborn baby boys into the covenant of the Jewish people. Although circumcision is a core part of the ceremony, translating Brit Milah simply as “circumcision” misses the mark. The Hebrew phrase implies the embrace of a covenant – that is, a committed relationship between the family, the child, the Jewish people, and the Holy One. This ancient practice brings the Jewish past into connection with the Jewish present and is a powerful symbol of the ways in which we are informed by the insights, rituals, ideas, and aspirations of our forebears. For centuries it has been and continues to be a sign of inclusion and embrace of the Jewish people, and to this day is a practice shared by a huge majority of the community, bridging Jews across lines of denomination and observance.
At this time, Brit Milah – along with male infant circumcision in general – is being challenged by some who feel it is an inappropriate cultural practice.
We, the members of Haver, Boulder’s Rabbinic Fellowship, representing the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Renewal communities, wish to affirm our continued endorsement of this central Jewish rite. We are a very diverse group with a unified voice on this issue. Our beloved Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (May his Memory be a Blessing) was radical in so many ways in the innovations he brought to Jewish life, yet he remained clear until the end about his unwavering commitment to this practice. In one of his very last public appearances, Reb Zalman insisted that we maintain the integrity of Brit Milah as a sacred Jewish rite of passage, preserving Jewish continuity throughout the generations.
Brit Milah is usually performed at home or in a synagogue, in an environment where infant and family can be comfortable. It brings with it rituals that allow parents to include friends and family as they welcome their child into sacred covenant. The ritual is performed by a trained professional called a mohel or mohelet who is often a pediatrician, is brief and safe, and is endorsed by all of the members of Haver, Boulder’s Rabbinic Fellowship, as well as by all of the national Jewish Religious Movements. If you have questions about Brit Milah, please reach out to a Haver rabbi by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org