Tzohar launches brit milah initiative

National-religious rabbinical group unveils new public initiative to help parents through process of having their sons circumcised.

The national-religious rabbinical association Tzohar 370 (photo credit: Yossi Zliger)
The national-religious rabbinical association Tzohar 370
(photo credit: Yossi Zliger)
The national-religious rabbinical association Tzohar unveiled a new program on Monday to provide friendly, approachable mohels, or ritual circumcisers, to help parents through the process of a brit mila, or religious circumcision.
Tzohar is known in the secular Israeli public for its free wedding service, as well as for its battles with the Chief Rabbinate over the marriage project, and says that the work it has done has made it aware of the need for the provision of similar services when it comes to other Jewish lifecycle events, such as brit mila.
The organization was founded 15 years ago to “heal the rifts in Israeli society,” and has sought to achieve this though the provision of services for religious lifecycle events – in a welcoming and open manner – to less observant people.
According to Jewish law, all males must be circumcised at eight days old (unless there are medical complications requiring postponement) as a sign of the covenant recorded in the Bible between God and Abraham, and his descendants the Children of Israel.
“Brit mila represents the covenant between a Jew and God,” said Tzohar Chairman Rabbi David Stav, at the unveiling of the brit mila initiative in Petah Tikva on Monday afternoon. “The Jewish people throughout the generations have seen brit mila as one of the most important Torah commandments, and sacrificed themselves for this mitzva, as in the times when [2nd century BCE Seleucid King] Antiochus [IV], and others, issued decrees forbidding it.”
Stav explained that through its wedding program it has become aware of couples wishing to have the brit mila ceremony of their baby boys done “in the same approachable, relevant and interesting manner” as their wedding was conducted, and so the organization decided to establish the project.
He added that there is also a growing, but still small trend of those who do not want to perform a brit mila, a phenomenon Tzohar wants to prevent from widening.
“The ceremony for a baby boy to enter the covenant is an opportunity for all Jews to experience the deep connection between the Jewish people and God,” Stav said, adding that his organization “feels a duty to be partners with parents for this critical element of Jewish life, the entry of a newborn boy into the fold.”
According to the organization, the mohels working with their new program are highly experienced and must have certification from the Ministry of Health and from the Chief Rabbinate. In addition, the mohels will undergo special training through Tzohar so that they can make the ceremony appropriate for the family they are working with.
A couple who request a Tzohar mohel will receive a visit at their home from him before the actual ceremony to explain the various technical aspects of what will happen as well as the religious significance and importance of brit mila itself. The mohel will also check the infant to ensure that there are no medical issues that might require the postponement of the ceremony.
Tzohar says that all its mohels commit to the initial meeting; being on time for the ceremony; charging a set fee of NIS 1,000; issuing receipts; being attentive to to the needs and wishes of the parents, as long as they conform to Jewish law; and being available and accessible throughout the process.

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