Baby naming without a circumcision

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October 6, 2009 at 11:00 am #3833

Mike

My wife and I are getting ready to have a baby and are trying to determine what to do with regard to circumcision.  My wife is not Jewish but I am, however, I am not sure we’d like a bris considering a circumcision can be done at the hospital. My family is putting some pressure on us to give the baby a Hebrew name in memory of my grandmother because she doesn’t have anyone named for her at the moment.  So, my question is whether we can hold a ceremony to give the baby a Hebrew name without the formal circumcision.

October 6, 2009 at 4:02 pm #3834

Debbie B.

If your wife is not Jewish, then by Conservative or Orthodox Jewish standards, the baby will not be Jewish without a formal conversion. If the circumcision is done in the hospital, you should know that it may matter later *who* does the procedure. Some Jewish physicians are also certified mohelim and will do the circumcision “with religious intent” and with the proper blessings. Note that use of anesthesia or the hospital clamps does not make the circumcision non-kosher. However, you might take into account that someone who is a mohel by profession does a lot more circumcisions than any doctor (the mohel we used for my son has done TENS OF THOUSANDS of brises!), so one might expect them to be better at it. Anyway, the point is that If you or he (your child) should wish to have a Conservative or Orthodox conversion for him later, if his circumcision was not done by a mohel, then a symbolic drop of blood (“haf dam brit”) will have to be drawn.

Since girl babies can have a naming ceremony without a bris, I’m sure you can do some such ceremony for a boy that is not done at the same time as the circumcision. The Conservative Rabbinical Assembly says that official ceremonies for a new baby boy should not be performed by C rabbis at C synagogues if the boy is or has not been circumcised and will not be brought up as  Jew or has been given a Christian baptism.

By the way, I was not Jewish when my son was born, but we were still able to have an Orthodox mohel do the bris. One interesting aspect was that although my son was born slightly before Havdalah on a Saturday evening, the bris was done the next Sunday because since the baby was not a Jew by Birth, there was no requirement of a bris on the eighth day, so Shabbat took precedence. Two of our friends who are observant Jews served as our two *kosher* witnesses who signed the certificate from the mohel that the bris was done for the purpose of future conversion (which we did a little later). The blessings said were slightly different than what is said for a baby who is  Jew by birth. The P.S. to the story is that my son is now preparing for his bar mitzvah this spring when he will confirm the “child conversion” that was done when he was a baby. Because the bris was done according to Orthodox protocol, it will be valid if my son should ever want to do an Orthodox conversion in the future. A P.P.S. is that I myself did convert a decade after we converted my children.

You should talk to the rabbi whom you would ask to do the baby naming about these issues.

October 6, 2009 at 6:31 pm #3836

InterfaithFamily Administrator

Dear Mike,

Congratulations on your upcoming arrival.  Yes, you can do a baby naming without a formal circumcision.  If you fill out our officiation request form we can send you a list of Rabbis in your area, we can send you a list of Rabbis in your area who could help you:

http://interfaithfamily.kintera.org/findarabbi

You can also find a lot of useful resources in our Pregnancy and Birth Ceremony resource page:
http://www.interfaithfamily.com/life_cy … nies.shtml

With that said the reform movement has their own mohel program, where are all the mohels are either doctors or midwives.  Perhaps that is an option for you;

http://beritmila.org/

All my best,

Robin
Network Director
InterfaithFamily.com

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