The Ceremony

The bris ceremony celebrates life, commemorates family history and accentuates Jewish tradition. The child is brought to the room where the guests are assembled. Opening remarks are made by Dr. Silverberg or family rabbi who is present. The child is brought in by the Godmother, also known as the Kvatterin.

The baby is then handed to a male, known as the Godfather or Kvatter. This is usually the husband of the Godmother (Kvatterin), especially when these honors are being bestowed on a couple not yet blessed with children. The mohel or the rabbi leads everyone in greeting and welcoming the infant to his family and to the Jewish community.

In some communities a special chair is set aside, on which the baby is placed on an ornate pillow or drapery. This chair is known as the throne of Elijah the Prophet. According to tradition, Elijah is remembered at the bris because he championed the cause of ritual circumcision during his lifetime. Some people consider it a good omen to sit on this chair after the bris takes place.

The baby is then presented by the father to the Sandek, a Greek word, meaning person of honor. The Sandek is the highest honor bestowed at the bris and it is usually given to the baby’s grandfather or some other prominent member of the family. At times, a prominent rabbi is offered the prestigious honor of Sandek. It is not suggested that the father act as Sandek, as it is quite difficult for him to overcome his emotion at this time.

Following the technical part of the bris, blessings are recited. A blessing is recited on a cup of wine as wine symbolizes happiness and festivity. A second blessing celebrates the first bris that a father performed on his son, which is the bris our patriarch Abraham performed on his son Isaac. This benediction concludes with a prayer for the welfare of the newborn infant.

The child is then given his Hebrew Name. This benediction includes prayers for the wellbeing of the parents, an expression of thanks to G-d for the arrival of the child and a prayer that the infant boy grow to reach his fulfillment as a Jewish man.

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Dr. Alan Silverberg, a Mohel in Philadelphia for your bris ceremony.