So you’re having a baby boy. Hooray! Here’s a step by step guide for what you’ll need to do to prepare for a Bris. [If you need to back up and read what a Bris actually is, click here.]
1) Book a Moyel. A Moyel is a specially trained Rabbi who comes to perform the Bris. You need to give him a few weeks notice to ensure he is available. If you are not active in a Synagogue, be ready to prove that you’re Jewish. Moyels cannot perform a bris on babies that are not wholly Jewish as their insurance will not cover them. If you’re having trouble finding one, your doctor may be able to recommend one or try contacting your local Jewish community centre.
2) Make sure you have a mezuzah on your door. It goes without saying, if you’re asking a Rabbi to make a house call, make sure the home is respectful and covers the basics.
3) Be ready to put on a spread of lovely food. Babies are to be celebrated, and Jewish celebrations require either food or fasting. This is one of the food ones! Great suggestions include: Fresh fruit salad, bagels and lox, latkes, pastries, h’orderves to nosh on. I like Bris parties that are morning brunches, but obviously that only works well when hosted on a weekend. If you’re going to have a weekday evening Bris, bite sized platters of nibbles work well. We also like to serve champagne. It’s a celebration after all!
4) Don’t send out invitations. It’s superstitious. You’re supposed to announce, after the baby has been born, that you’re having a Bris. Tell everyone the time and place, but be sensitive to the fact that you’re announcing not inviting. People will still show up. I’ve done it twice, I promise people will understand!
5) The party must be on the 8th day of the baby’s life unless medical intervention is a concern. My son Jack was on the 8th day, my son Max was jaundiced and delayed until the 11th. Safety is obviously a priority, but unless there’s a real reason for delay, the 8th day it is!
6) Your Rabbi will need the following waiting for him;
- A soft pillow to place your baby on.
- Sterile cotton wool and three clean diapers
- Petrolium Jelly
- A bottle of kosher wine
- Yarmulkes for all men to wear [if you don't have enough, ask him to bring a pile of them.]
- A donation in an envelope for him. The service is performed for free, but a donation is expected.
7) The baby should be freshly bathed as he will not be able to be bathed after for a couple of days.
You will be expected to name your baby officially at this party. So it goes without saying, you’ll need to know what you’re going to call him and what his Jewish name is going to be. [See my What is a Bris section for guidance.]
9) Put up baby decorations and make the most of the party. After all, it’s a celebration! I was in a sewing mood after Max was born and made the decorations, but It’s a Boy! from the party shop works too!
10) Remember to breathe. The snip part is all over in a matter of moments.
Questions? Email me. I’m happy to help you personally. I’ve been through this so I can offer some sound advice! [Grin!]