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As far as the understandable discomfort about witnesses, in most cases I’ve been involved in, the mohel, sensitive to the privacy of the convert, has had the witnesses stand outside the door and brought the gauze out for them to “witness.”
Very well said, and I would heartily agree. My (Reconstructionist) conversion was official one year ago tomorrow with the visit to the Mikveh. Prior to that, on my birthday in late April, I underwent my Hatafat. I am a pretty private person and was quite anxious about the whole thing but the mohel (who is also a local medical doctor and member of my shul) was fantastic and I, literally, did not feel the lancet at all – and I’m pretty skittish and have a low pain tolerance. It was surprisingly unmemorable (aside from its incredible ritual importance). I also knew very little about what to expect going in but was, for want of a better word, “pleasantly” surprised. And now I have a special birthday memory!
I underwent hatafat dam brit last Thursday, when I went to mikveh (and became officially Jewish!)
Clap your hands. The sound your hands just made is how long the lancing takes, at least in my case. It felt like a mosquito bite and was so innocuous I felt silly having spent any time being afraid of it in advance.
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