The bris is an exciting time for the baby's whole family. It is also an opportunity to involve baby's loved ones in the ceremony.
The festivities begin with a communal welcome of the new baby, we declare "baruch haba", which literally means "blessed is the one who comes".
We recite this ceremonial greeting twice in a Jewish person's life; as a baby enters the room of the bris or baby naming and as a couple enter the wedding canopy.
Below you will discover the flow of the bris ceremony as well the various roles with which to honor and include your loved ones in the ceremony.
The baby is escorted
After entering the room, the baby is passed between loved ones--grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles. The first honor who passes the baby is called "Kvater" and this can be any number of people (usually 2) of any gender.
The baby is removed from Elijah's chair
This special honor is given to someone who will take the baby from Elijah's chair and deliver him to the lap of the sandek, where the actual circumcision will occur.
The Seated Sandek
The baby is held in place for the circumcision
In the old country, this special honor was said to be a good an omen for wealth. It was often given to whomever paid for the festive meal to follow. In our time, regardless of who is paying, it is often given to a grandfather. He will hold the baby in place for the circumcision.
The Blessings and Circumcision
Two blessing are recited
It is the responsibility of the closest Jewish male relative to perform the circumcision. In the absence of expertise, this person will appoint the mohel with the job of "the cut". The Mohel will make the first blessing, "Blessed are You are God, Ruler of the Universe.. Who commanded us to perform the bris."
After "the cut" the relative will recite the blessing "Blessed are You are God, Ruler of the Universe.. Who commanded us to to bring this child into the covenant of Abraham our patriarch."
"The Standing Sandek" & Sanctifying the Wine
The baby is passed to the "Standing Sandek" who will hold the baby throughout the second part of the ceremony. A blessing is recited over a cup of wine
As in all Jewish times of joy, we mark the occasion by sanctifying "the fruit of the vine". A drop of that wine, or grape juice is given to the baby.
The Baby Naming
For the first time, the baby's Hebrew name is revealed to the public.
The Mohel recites the liturgical text which touches on themes of lifecycles and celebration. He then publicly declares the name of the child "he shall be called X amongst the Jewish people."
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