baptisim procedures for 5 year old boy when his mother converts to the Jewish co

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January 20, 2010 at 4:45 pm #4248

susangigi

My daughter (38) has met a Jewish man (Conservative) and is taking classes to convert.  She has a 6 year old son who she wants to baptise at the same time.  She told me that they take a drop of blood from his penis during this ceremony.  I’m afraid this will cause him a lot of trama/terror and I wondered if this is really necessary.

January 20, 2010 at 5:02 pm #4249

Ruth Abrams

The taking of a drop of blood ceremony is described in this excerpt from Choosing a Jewish Life which is published on our partner organization’s website, http://www.myjewishlearning.com. The author interviewed converts who had the ceremony, some of whom found it painful and others, much less so.

The Conservative movement requires this ritual. The Reform movement doesn’t, officially, but when I interviewed a local Reform rabbi for the Guide to Conversion I wrote for this site,  he said he typically did have people do it, because in his experience it was more powerful and transformative than scary or painful.

Children who convert to Judaism and immerse in the ritual bath called a mikveh (you’re right, it’s very similar to baptism, but we use a different word) have to re-choose Judaism when they achieve religious maturity. In Judaism that’s when a boy is 13 and becomes bar mitzvah.

I hope some people on our site who have had this ceremony, or whose children have, will also respond to your query to tell how it was for them.

January 20, 2010 at 10:07 pm #4251

Debbie B.

Here’s what an adult man said on the “Jews by Choice” website about “hatafat dam brit” (the ritual drawing of blood for a male convert who is already circumcised):

“My case? Bridal prep room of my temple. Mohel (who is also an MD, may he be blessed for doing such a great mitzvah for me) and myself. I Didn’t feel a thing. My conversion was Reform, so I don’t know if other traditions have more people around. I was prepared for something similar to when I prick my finger to test my blood sugar, but the mohel has so much experience, and uses such a sharp scalpel that if he hadn’t shown me the blood on the gauze I would not have believed it. The nick was so small and shallow that there wasn’t even a scab afterwards. I would say it is similar to when you cut yourself shaving with a new blade and don’t even notice it until you see the blood. Was I nervous? You bet I was.”

Another male convert wrote:
“I had my conversion ceremony, including hatafat dam brit yesterday. While I won’t say that the stick is painless, it’s a lot less painful then you might imagine. For me the immersion was more stressful (i’m claustraphobic).”

Susangigi: Is your grandson comfortable with being totally underwater? My daughter was terrified of that when we converted her at age 5. See my article “A Tale of Two Immersions” on this website for the story: http://tinyurl.com/ygr82zm
A six year old is old enough to understand the significance of the rituals, so I hope that his mother and her boyfriend and the sponsoring rabbi take time well *before* the event to explain what will be done and the reasons for it, as well as to respond to any questions or concerns he might have. I think it is important that even though he is a child that conversion is something that *he* wants to do too.

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