he bris ceremony celebrates life, commemorates family history and accentuates Jewish tradition.
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- The child is brought to the room where the guests are assembled.
- Opening remarks are made by the mohel or family rabbi who is present. The child is brought in by someone called the Godmother, also known as the Kvatterin. (She has no legal responsibilities). This woman can be a friend or relative (sister, sister-in-law, aunt, grandmother, etc.). Customarily, this honor is given to a woman who is looking to have children. This is considered a great omen for her, for as she is gracious in entering another woman's son to his bris, she merits that G-dGod grant her the thrill and honor of bringing her own son to his bris.
- 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 Godfather can be a friend or relative (brother, brother-in-law, uncle, or grandfather, etc.). Here, too, there are no legal responsibilities. 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-dGod for the arrival of the child and a prayer that the infant boy grow to reach his fulfillment as a Jewish man.
One of the parents or guests is given the opportunity to explain the reason the particular name of the child is being used. It is appropriate to explain the meaning of the name and, if the child is being named for someone, it is fitting to speak about the personality and wonderful character traits of the individual being named for.
It is suggested that the one speaking have his or her thoughts written out. This is because the explanation of the name is unquestionably the most moving and poignant part of the ceremony. Quite often the speaker is overcome with emotion and then finds it difficult to present cohesive thoughts.
Being able to refer to notes will make the speech more coherent.
- A festive meal is held in honor of the occasion.
- At times there is some singing and speaking done at the meal.
IF YOU HAVE ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS, DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL!
RABBI PAYSACH KROHN, CERTIFIED MOHEL
866.846.6900 (toll free)
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© Copyright 2005 Rabbi Paysach Krohn
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