Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Mohel Asks Fathers to Help at Circumcision

Cantor Philip Sherman is on a campaign to promote DIY bris to young fathers

By: Graham Sigurdson

Published: December 9th, 2013 in News » World

At a Brit Milah in California, Mohel Cantor Philip Sherman asked new father Natan Zaidenweber if he would like to help perform the bris on his son. Where most families typically delegate the entire procedure to the Mohel, Sherman stated, according to JTA, that anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of fathers agree to take part.

“It is the father’s mitzvah to actually perform the bris as Abraham did for his son, Isaac,” Sherman said. “Many fathers have told me what an incredible moment it was for them to do the actual bris and enter their sons into the covenant of Abraham.”

Sherman commenced with a naming ceremony for Jay Hilay and sister Sivan Rose, before offering Natan the option to help with the process. The couple first thought that Sherman was joking, with Natan’s wife, Linda Raab, screaming “Are you crazy?” as Natan stepped forward to take part, friends reassuring her that the process would be easy.

“I then took a deep breath, surrendered to the faith I had in Phil and motioned that they had my blessing to proceed,” Raab said. Sherman, who has performed over 20,000 circumcisions set everything up and gave the baby some sugar water before placing a clamp and letting Zaidenweber take it from there.

Zaidenweber found it to be a strong bonding experience, saying that “I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I have that connection with my son. Your love is equal for both [twins], but it’s special that we have that bond.” Raab also found the experience positive, with Sherman telling those gathered that a baby’s cry during a bris is like the sound of a shofar opening the gates of heaven. I closed my eyes, heard Jay’s cry and actually was able to experience it as deeply spiritual and beautiful,” Raab said. “He stepped up, fearlessly, with a faith in himself that I wouldn’t have had in myself. I have since been aware of how much his modeling has helped me to muster more courage as I face the tasks of mothering.”

When asked if, in the event of their having another son, would Zaidenweber again be the one making the snip? “Without hesitation,” he answered.

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