Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q21.1.2 TOC Q21.1.4 >

Question 21.1.3:
Entering the Covenant: Who performs the circumcision?


Although some modern Reform Jews use medical doctors to perform the circumcision, this is not the traditional method. Traditionally, the male infants are circumcised in the home or the shul on the eighth day after birth, surrounded by family and friends, and held by the sandek (who holds the baby during the bris). The infant is given a little wine, and the ritual is performed by a specially trained Mohel, whose sole function is to perform circumcisions. Also present are the kvaters, usually a married couple but for sure two people who hand the baby to the person who will put him on the sandek’s lap.

Traditionally, the father is supposed to perform the Brit. As most fathers do not have the appropriate training, a Mohel performs the Brit. It is customary, that if possible, a Mohel will perform his first Brit on his own son - under the supervision of an experienced accredited Mohel (his teacher).

Note that Mohelim are not unique to the more traditional Orthodox movement. The Reform and Conservative movements also train and accredit Mohelim; often, the Mohel is a practicing M.D. (For example, Dr. Samuel Kunin (a Reform Mohel in Los Angeles CA) and Dr. Robert Lewis (a Conservative Mohel in Columbus OH) are practicing urologists).

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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© (c) 1993-2002 Daniel P. Faigin <>