Here you will find a wealth of information about the Brit Milah (or Bris) ceremony for boys, and the Baby Naming (Simchat Bat or Zeved Habat) ceremony for girls. Much of this information is repeated in different ways throughout the web site. I hope it will give you a good sense about my philosophy and approach to these beautiful rituals.
If your son or grandson's Bris coincides with the Sabbath (Shabbat) or a Jewish holiday...
This year the Jewish holidays fall in such a way that there are two holiday days followed by Shabbat. That means the Sunday of the following week will be a "make-up" Sunday. Four days of Brisses may need to be scheduled on that one Sunday. They are: Sunday, September 24, Sunday, October 8 and Sunday, October 15.
As a result, I will not be scheduling any events in advance on those days.
I will be scheduling Brisses geographically on those Sundays, as well. That means that the times of the Brisses will be determined by the location. This will allow me to maximize the number of families for whom I can perform Brisses on those Sundays. Some of them may even spill over into Monday. For example, if I have two Brisses in New Jersey and one in Long Island, I will schedule the two New Jersey Brisses together and then the Long Island Bris. This way I will avoid driving to New Jersey, then to Long Island and then back to New Jersey. Unfortunately for many families, the time is more important than the mohel, so they will settle for any mohel they can get for the time they want. That is probably not the best way to choose the mohel.
A baby born by C-section cannot have a Bris on the Sabbath or a Jewish holiday. Many people miscalculate the correct day of the Bris and there are other exceptions to the eighth day rule.
**Please do not make any arrangements until you have confirmed the correct day of the Bris with me.
The day of birth counts as the first day. A baby born on a Monday before sunset will have his Bris the following Monday. A baby born on Monday after sunset would have his Bris the following Tuesday. If a baby is born naturally and the Bris will be taking place in Manhattan, it may be possible for me to perform the Bris on Shabbat or on a holiday day. Since I am the only traditional mohel who lives in Manhattan—I can walk to the Bris. However, I am also a cantor in a synagogue, so Shabbat and holiday Brisses will be scheduled in the afternoon.
If a family is not kosher keeping or Sabbath observant, it is religiously preferred to make the Bris on a Sunday or weekday. The same Torah that tells us to do the Bris on the eighth day is the same Torah that tells us to keep the Shabbat (or holiday), not violate the Shabbat and not cause others to violate Shabbat. Therefore, if the parents and the baby (or anyone else) will be driving or riding to get to the Bris, if the food will be cooked, prepared or delivered on the Shabbat or holiday or if you want to photograph or video the Bris, I would strongly advise you to make the make the Bris on a Sunday or weekday in order to avoid all of those conflicts with the Shabbat or holiday. Please remember that there are many situations where the Bris cannot or should not happen on the eighth day.
So, if your baby is born by C-section and/or the Bris is not taking place in Manhattan and you give birth on Wednesday night, September 13, Thursday, September 14, Friday, September 15 or Shabbat, September 16, then the Bris will take place on Sunday, September 24 (which also happens to be a fast day—the Fast of Gedalia.)
Similarly, if your baby is born by C-section and/or the Bris is not taking place in Manhattan and you give birth on Wednesday night, September 27, Thursday, September 28, Friday, September 29 or Shabbat, September 30, then the Bris will take place on Sunday, October 8.
Finally, if your baby is born by C-section and/or the Bris is not taking place in Manhattan and you give birth on Wednesday night, October 4, Thursday, October 5, Friday, October 6 or Shabbat, October 7, then the Bris will take place on Sunday, October 15.
Because of the two-day holiday followed by Shabbat, if you email me on Wednesday night, Thursday, Friday or Shabbat I will not be able to get back in touch with you until Saturday night.
Please don't panic and schedule your event during the holiday or on the Sabbath with a doctor mohel. If you do, it will be considered religiously invalid and not count which will have significant ramifications for your son or grandson in the future. If you want to be assured of a beautiful, proper and meaningful Bris that will be recognized by all the movements of Judaism and in Israel, please wait until after Shabbat and schedule the Bris with me. If I am not available, I have a number of colleagues that I can recommend who perform a beautiful Bris and maintain and follow the same high professional and religious standards that I do.
When the time comes, please make sure only one person is making arrangements with only one mohel.
Do not commit to any mohel unless you are 100% certain that is the mohel you want for your son or grandson's Bris. Once you commit and schedule your Bris with me or any mohel—DO NOT cancel!
Once an event is confirmed by phone or email, my Cancellation policy goes into effect immediately. This is crucial on those Sundays. Once I schedule the maximum number of Brisses on those days, I will be turning other families away.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding. Best wishes for an easy delivery and a beautiful, healthy baby!
Cantor Phil Sherman