What is a Brit Milah?

Brit Milah is a ceremony that has connected all Jewish families for thousands of years. Brit means covenant and milah means circumcision. It is written in the Torah, Genesis Ch. 17, that G-d comes to Abraham and tells him that his wife, Sarah, who is barren, will bear him a son. And from this child, a nation will be born; Abraham's descendants will be many and fruitful and G-d will always provide them a homeland. In return, Abraham will mark this covenant by circumcising himself and all males after him. Sarah subsequently bore Isaac and when he was 8 days old, he too was brought into the covenant with G-d and circumcised.

Therefore, we perform the bris on the 8th day of life, even if it falls on Shabbat or even Yom Kippur! The bris may be after 8 days if there is an issue of health for the baby, but it can never be done prior to 8 days.

"The covenant of circumcision is the oldest continuous Jewish rite; a ritual that unites Jews throughout the ages and across cultures and signifies the connection between individual human life and the Holy. With this ancient ceremony, parents announce their commitment to taking on the responsibilities and joys of raising a son according to the terms of the contract between G-d and the Jews. Brit Bat, the act of welcoming infant daughters to this historic relationship, does the same with words and rituals." (Anita Diamant, The New Jewish Baby Book).

The brit milah is an affirmation of spiritual and physical identity. Throughout the ages, when Jews were persecuted for their beliefs by the Crusaders, the Inquisition, the Romans and the Nazis, brit milah has endured, confirming the resilience of the Jewish spirit.

Practically, the bris is a time to gather your friends and family, those that you love, and welcome this new, precious life into the world.