Monday, May 10, 2010

A Writer Encounters a Mohel

Greetings Friends,

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a bris. For those of you not familiar with the terms "mohel" and "bris", let me give you a little background:

 A bris is the ceremonial circumcision of a newborn Jewish male child. It is a celebration of the birth of the child, along with his entrance into the Jewish faith. It is performed by a mohel, who can be a rabbi, a doctor, or in some cases, both. In most cases, a bris takes place in a synagogue or someone's home (usually the home of the parents or grandparents). The one I attended was in the home of the paternal grandparents.

As you could probably imagine, there was food, liquor and of course, the requisite screaming 7 day old male infant who has no idea what he's in for. Thankfully, said male infant will have no recollection of this procedure, unless his yenta relatives choose to remind him of it later on in life.

This was my first bris in almost 8 years. The last one I attended was for my best friend's son. His was a more low key event and I had a front row seat for the "procedure". This time around, I promised myself I would not get that close. It was pretty easy since there were many more people in attendance yesterday, and I was able to stay well back from the proceedings. But, my conscious geographic positioning did not preclude a chance encounter with the mohel.

Upon his arrival, I noticed Mr. Mohel seemed a bit nervous. Maybe he was stressed because he was running late, or maybe he does not like to "perform" in front of large gatherings. Either way, he seemed somewhat agitated. At one point, I found myself next to Mr. Mohel, as he attempted to make his way towards the "stage". When he realized he was not able to circumnavigate the gathering to get to his destination, he said, "Oh, I thought this would be a shortcut." He then proceeded to head back from whence he came. After he was out of earshot, I said to the people standing next to me, "That's really not something you want to hear from a mohel." Peals of laughter ensued and we had a hard time containing our giggles even after the call for quiet went out. Thankfully, all went well; I think.

In addition to my serendipitous one-liner, I had yet another encounter with Mr. Mohel. After his part of the ceremony was completed, he managed to catch my eye over the throng gathered around him and motioned for me to get him some water. I obliged by sending a bottle of water through the crowd in his general direction. Eventually, I saw him grab it, open it, and bring it shakily to his lips. For the rest of the day, all I could think was, I was at a bris performed by "Shakey the Mohel".

Click here for a hilarious video of the classic Seinfeld episode, The Bris. All the dialog is dubbed over in Yiddish (subtitles are in English). It turns out, there are a bunch of these on YouTube. If you want my advice (spoken like a true yenta), put down your cup of coffee before watching any of them.

Mazel Tov to Michael, Nicola, Abigail, and baby Miles.


No comments:

Post a Comment