Christian parents who have started calling on Jewish mohels to perform their sons’ circumcisions apparently don’t care that they’re not, well, Jewish. They don’t even care that it costs a little extra.
Traditionally, Christian parents who have opted to circumcise their little boys have it done in a hospital setting – where it’s often covered by a parent’s health insurance. Many Jewish parents, however, follow the traditional method of a bris – a ceremonial circumcision performed after the baby has been released from the hospital, in the presence of friends and family. A mohel – a specially trained Jewish circumciser – traditionally does the honors, not only cutting the foreskin but leading the onlookers in a small religious ceremony. The whole thing can cost upwards of $300 to $800 – and that’s not including the party the parents’ usually throw for their guests.
So why would Christian parents call on a mohel? Philip Sherman, a mohel in the New York City area, told the Houston Chronicle parents would rather have the process done in the comfort of their own homes; they like to make it spiritual. Plus, he claims, the process is much quicker for the baby – he says it’s a few seconds for a mohel, half an hour in a hospital (The American Academy of Pediatrics actually calls for anesthetic cream to be applied sixty to ninety minutes before the procedure in a hospital or the use of some other, faster-acting anesthetic. The AAP also suggests a clamp be left on the area for several minutes to stop bleeding).
The mother of a daughter, I never had to make the “to circumcise” or “not to circumcise” decision. I don’t have a feeling either way. But where I can accept a Jewish parent’s decision to call in a mohel to practice their faith, I find the concept of a Christian parent doing the same slightly bizarre. Even odder? That mohels are adjusting their usual ceremony to make them less Jewish. In the case cited in the Chronicle, he actually handed out a prayer booklet that was appropriate for the largely Presbyterian crowd. Instead of religious, they call it “holistic” circumcision.
Isn’t this a bit like calling on a rabbi to perform your Catholic wedding? Maybe I’m just not well-versed enough in the Bible. Is there really any religious meaning to a bris outside of the Jewish faith?
Image: Houston Chronicle