Adapted Traditional Bris Milah Ceremony

sleeping newborn baby

The bris milah is simultaneously a performance of the mitzvah of circumcision and a celebration of the newborn child’s entrance into the divine covenant and the Jewish community. The following ceremony shifts the emphasis of the occasion away from the physical circumcision and towards the welcoming of the newborn child into the community and the covenant through the use of a traditionally-inspired liturgy with alternative Biblical citations, additional songs and petitionary prayers, and an original English translation. As the mitzvah is incumbent upon the parents, it is recommended that parents lead as much of the ceremony as they feel comfortable with.

The bris ceremony begins with the kvatterins bringing the newborn into the room.  When the kvatterins pass the baby to the sandek rishon, all present say:

!ּּבָּרוּךְ הַבָּא

Baruch Ha’ba!


The following is said by the parents/mohel, then repeated by all:

.שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ ה’ אֶחָד

Shemah yisra’el Adonay Eloheynu Adonay eh’khad.

Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one.

Parents/mohel say:

Happy is the one drawn near to dwell in your courts;                                ,אַשְׁרֵי תִבְחַר וּתְקָרֵב יִשְׁכֹּן חֲצֵרֶיךָ
May we be satisfied by the goodness of your ways.                                   .נִשְׂבְּעָה בְּטוּב בֵּיתֶךָ קְדשׁׁ הֵיכָלֶךָ
“And God appeared to Abram and said to him:                                               :וַיֵרָא ה’ אֶל אַבְרָם וַיֹאמֶר אֵלָיו
I am God Almighty – walk before me and be perfect.                      .אֲנִי אֵל שַׁדַי – הִתְהַלֵךְ לְפָנַי וֶהְיֵה תָמִים
I will set my covenant between me and you                                                              ,וְאֶתְנָה בְרִיתִי בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶךָ
and multiply you greatly…                                                                                        .וְאַרְבֶּה אוֹתְךָ בִּמְאֹד מְאֹד
And I will establish my covenant between me and you                                     וַהֲקִמֹתִי אֶת בְּרִיתִי בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶךָ
and your offspring after you, an everlasting covenant:                      וּבֵין זַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ לְדֹרֹתָם לִבְרִית עוֹלָם
to be a God to you and your offspring after you.”                                   .לִהְיוֹת לְךָ לֵאלֹהִים, וּלְזַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ

The sandek rishon sits with the baby beside the empty Chair of Elijah.

Parents/mohel say:

This is the chair of Elijah the prophet.                                        .זֶה הַכִּסֵא שֶׁל אֵלִיָהוּ הַנָבִיא, זָכוּר לַטוֹב
I long for your salvation, God, and                                                                                  ,’לִישׁוּעָתְךָ קִוִיתִי ה
I have done what is commanded.                                                    .שִׂבַּרְתִי לִישׁוּעָתְךָ ה’ וּמִצְוֹתֶיךָ עָשִׂיתִי
Elijah, messenger of the covenant,                                                ,אֵלִיָהוּ מַלְאַךְ הַבְּרִית הִנֵה שֶׁלְךָ לְפָנֶיךָ
stand by my side and assist me.                                                                               .עֲמוֹד עַל יְמִינִי וְסָמְכֵנִי
I rejoice in your words as in treasure.                                             .שָׂשׂ אָנֹכִי עַל אִמְרָתֶךָ כְּמוֹצֵא שָׁלָל רָב
May we abound in peace and stumble not.                              .שָׁלוֹם רָב לְאֹהֲבֵי תוֹרָתֶךָ וְאֵין לָמוֹ מִכְשׁוֹל
Happy is the one drawn near to dwell in your courts;                            ,אַשְׁרֵי תִבְחַר וּתְקָרֵב יִשְׁכֹּן חֲצֵרֶיךָ
May we be satisfied by the goodness of your ways.                              .נִשְֹבְּעָה בְּטוּב בֵּיתֶךָ קְדשׁׁ הֵיכָלֶךָ

Parents/mohel recite:

Here I am, ready to perform the commandment                                 הִנְנִי מוּכָן וּמְזֻמָן לְקַיֵם מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה
that the Creator has commanded us, to circumcise.                                      .שֶׁצִוָנוּ הַבּוֹרֵא יִתְבָּרַךְ לָמוֹל

The mohel asks the parents for permission to act on their behalf. He then recites the blessing on the circumcision:

Blessed are you, Lord, our God,                                                      בָּרוּךְ אַתָה ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
who has commanded us regarding circumcision.                     .אֲשֶׁר קִדְשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ עַל הַמִילָה

The mohel performs the circumcision. When he finishes the milah, the parents say:

Blessed are you, Lord, our God,                                                      בָּרוּךְ אַתָה ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
who has commanded us                                                                                אֲשֶׁר קִדְשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ
to bring him into the covenant of Abraham.                                   .לְהַכְנִיסוֹ בִּבְרִיתוֹ שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ

All present respond:

!אָמֵן. כְּשֵׁם שֶׁנִכְנַס לַבְּרִית, כֵּן יִכָּנֵס לְתוֹרָה וּלְחוּפָּה וּלְמַעֲשִֹים טוֹבִים

Amen. K’shem she’nikh’nas la’brit, ken yikaness l’torah u’l’chupah u’l’maasim tovim!

Amen. Just as he has entered into the covenant, so may he enter torah, the marriage canopy, and good deeds!

When the mohel finishes the circumcision, the sandek rishon passes the baby to the sandek sheni.
The parents take a glass of wine in their right hand and recite the following blessings:

Blessed are you, Lord, our God,                                                           בָּרוּךְ אַתָה ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
who creates the fruit of the vine.                                                                                           .בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָפֶן

Blessed are you, Lord, our God, who has sanctified                             בָּרוּךְ אַתָה ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
this beloved boy from the womb, inscribed the law in                 אֲשֶׁר קִדַשׁ יְדִיד מִבֶּטֶן, וְחוֹק בִּשְׁאֵרוֹ שָׂם
his flesh, and sealed his offspring in the holy covenant.                           .וְצֶאֱצָאָיו חָתַם בְּאוֹת בְּרִית קֹדֶשׁ
The living God, our Rock, has ordained that                                     עַל כֵּן בִּשְׂכַר זֹאת אֵל חַי חֶלְקֵנוּ צוּרֵנוּ
the beloved of our flesh be redeemed on account of                               צִוָה לְהַצִיל יְדִידוּת שְׁאֵרֵנוּ מִשַׁחַת
the covenant that he has placed in our flesh.                                              .לְמַעַן בְּרִיתוֹ אֲשֶר שָׂם בִּבְשָׂרֵנוּ
Blessed are you, God, who makes the covenant.                                             .בָּרוּךְ אַתָה ה’ כּוֹרֵת הַבְּרִית

The baby is named:

Our God and the God of our forefathers,                                                                        ,אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ
sustain this child for his father and mother                                                     קַיֵם אֶת הַיֶלֶד הַזֶה לְאָבִיו וּלְאִמוֹ
and may he be called in Israel […].                                             .וְיִקָרֵא שְׁמוֹ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל פלוני בן פלוני ופלונית
May his parents rejoice in him, as it’s written:                                                             ,יִשְׂמַח הָאַב בְּיוֹצֵא חֲלָצָיו
“May your parents rejoice and she who bore you exult.”                                                 ,וְתָגֵל אִמוֹ בִּפְרִי בִטְנָהּ
And it’s said: “Here is God’s apportionment – children.”                    .כַּכָּתוּב: יִשְׂמַח אָבִיךָ וְאִמֶךָ וְתָגֵל יוֹלַדְתֶךָ
And it’s said: “Trust God. Let Him save and delight in it.           .וְנֶאֱמַר: הִנֵה נַחֲלַת ה’ בָּנִים, שָׂכָר פְּרִי הַבָּטֶן
You delivered me from the womb; you made me trust               .וְנֶאֱמַר: גֹל אֶל ה’ יְפַלְטֵהוּ יַצִילֵהוּ כִּי חָפֵץ בּוֹ
from upon my mother’s breasts. I have been cast upon                 .כִּי אַתָה גֹחִי מִבָּטֶן, מַבְטִיחִי עַל שְׁדֵי אִמִי
you from birth; from the womb you are my God.”                       .עָלֶיךָ הָשְׁלַכְתִי מֵרַחֶם; מִבֶּטֶן אִמִי אֵלִי אָתָה
And it’s said: “He forever remembered the covenant                                                ,וְנֶאֱמַר: זָכַר לְעוֹלם בְּרִיתוֹ
which He made to Abraham, and swore to Isaac,                                                               ,דָבָר צִוָה לְאֶלֶף דוֹר
and established for Jacob as a law                                                 ,אֲשֶר כָּרַת אֶת אַבְרָהָם, וּשְׁבוּעָתוֹ לְיִצְחָק
and to Israel as an eternal covenant.”                                        .וַיַעֲמִידֶהָ לְיַעֲקֹב לְחוֹק, לְיִשְׂרָאֵל בְּרִית עוֹלָם
And it’s said: “And Abraham circumcised Isaac                                        וְנֶאֱמַר: וַיָמָל אַבְרָהָם אֶת יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ
at the age of eight days as God commanded him.”                          .בֶּן שְׁמוֹנַת יָמִים כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָה אֹתוֹ אֶלֹהִים
And it’s said: “According to the kindness I have done                                  ,וְנֶאֱמַר: כְּחֶסֶד אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי עִמְךָ
for you, so shall you do for me.”                                                                                                      .תַעֲשֶׂה עִמָדִי

The following is said by the parents/mohel, then repeated by all, twice:

.הוֹדוּ לַה’ כִּי טוֹב, כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדוֹ

Ho’du la’do’nay ki tov, ki l’olam has’doh

Give thanks to God for He is good; His kindness is forever.

The parents continue:

May this little one […] become great.                                                                 .פלוני) זֶה הַקָטָן, גָדוֹל יִהְיֶה)
Just as he has entered the covenant, so may he                                              כְּשֵׁם שֶׁנִכְנַס לַבְּרִית, כֵּן יִכָּנֵס
enter torah, the marriage canopy, and good deeds.                                   .לְתוֹרָה וּלְחוּפָּה וּלְמַעֲשִֹים טוֹבִים
May it be so, amen.                                                                                                  .וְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן, וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן

The parents now drink the wine. They then recite the following prayer:

Lord of the world, may it be your will that this                                  רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ
be considered and accepted as though                                                שֶׁיְהֵא זֶה חָשוּב וּמְקֻבָּל לְפָנֶיךָ
he was brought before the throne of your glory.                           .כְּאִלוּ הִקְרַבְתִיהוּ לִפְנֵי כִסֵא כְבוֹדֶךָ
And may you in your abundant mercy                                      וְאַתָה, בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים, שְׁלַח עַל יְדֵי
send a pure soul to                                                           מַלְאָכֶיךָ הַקְדוֹשִים נְשָׁמָה קְדוֹשָה וּטְהוֹרָה
[…] who was circumcised just now,                                           ,לְ(פלוני), הַנִמוֹל עַתָה לְשִׁמְךָ הַגָדוֹל
and may his heart be open                                                         וְשֶׁיְהִיֶה לִבּוֹ פָּתוּחַ כְּפִתְחוֹ שֶׁל אוּלָם
to your holy torah:                                                                                                   ,בְּתוֹרָתְךָ הַקְדוֹשָה
to study and teach, to observe and perform.                                      .לִלְמוֹד וּלְלַמֵד, לִשׁמוֹר וְלַעֲשׂוֹת
And give him long days and years,                                                            ,וְתֵן לוֹ אֲרִיכוּת יָמִים וְשָׁנִים
a life of piety and richness and honor,                          ,חַיִים שֶׁל יִרְאַת חֵטְא, חַיִים שֶׁל עוֹשֶׁר וְכָבוֹד
and may the depths of his heart be filled with good.                           .וְשֶׁתְמַלֵא מִשְׁאֲלוֹת לִבּוֹ לְטוֹבָה
Amen, and may it be so.                                                                                             .אָמֵן, וְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן

The mother recites the following tekhine:
Lord of the world, when the Temple                                     רבונו של עולם, ווען דאס בית המקדש
stood in Jerusalem                                                                                 ,איז געשטאנען אין ירושלים
a woman who had just risen from childbirth                     האט איין יולדת בעדארפט אויפשטיינדיג
was obligated to bring a sacrifice.                                                      .פון קינדבעט ברענגען א קרבן
Now that the Temple                                                                           ,איצט, בעבור עוונותינו הרבים
is no more, one fulfills                                                                       ,אז דאס בית המקדש איז ניטא
this obligation with prayer                                                                                          איז מען יוצא מיט
in a lesser temple.                                                                                     .די תפילה אין מקדש מעט
So I come to shul to thank you, dear God,                                     ,גיי איך אין שול דיר, ליבער גאט
and to praise you for all the lovingkindness                                     דאנקען און לויבן פאר אלץ וואס
that you have bestowed upon me to this day.                 .דו האסט מיט מיר ביז היינט געטאן חסד
And I also ask you not to cease performing                                        און איך בעט דיר דאס ווייטער
your lovingkindness for me:                                         :זאלסטו אויך דיין חסד ניט אפּ טאן פון מיר
May […] be a beautiful sapling                                                  פלוני זאל זיין א שיינע פלאנצונג אין
in the Jewish vineyard, for the glory of Israel.                  .דעם יידישן וויינגארטן, לתפארת ישראל
May he come into the world to help                                                   ער זאל קומען אויף דער וועלט
bring salvation and comfort to all Israel.                                 .צוא ישועות ונחמות אויף כלל ישראל
In his time may the Jews merit                                                                          אין זיין צייט זאלין יידן
a true redemption, amen.                                                                   .זוכה זיין א ווארע גאולה, אמן

All sing:

הַמַלְאָךְ הַגוֹאֵל אוֹתִי, הַמַלְאָךְ הַגוֹאֵל אוֹתִי מִכָּל רָע

יְבָרֵךְ אֶת הַנְעָרִים, וְיִקָרֵא בָהֶם שְׁמִי

,וְשֵׁם אֲבֹתַי, וְשֵׁם אֲבֹתַי, אַבְרָהָם וְיִצְחָק

.וְיִדְגוּ לְָרֹב, וְיִדְגוּ לָרֹב, בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ

Ha’malach ha’goel oti, ha’malach ha’goel oti mi’kol rah
Yi’varech et ha’n’arim, v’yikaray vahem sh’mi
V’shem avotai, v’shem avotai, Avraham v’Yitzchak,
V’yidgu la’rov, v’yidgu la’rov, b’kerev ha’aretz.

May the angel who has delivered me from all harm bless the young,
and may they carry on my name and the name of our forefathers Abraham and Isaac,
and may they multiply throughout the earth.

Mother recites the following blessing of thanks:

Blessed are you, Lord, our God, bestower of kindness on              בָּרוּךְ אַתָה ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
those in need, for bestowing every kindness upon me.           .הַגוֹמֵל לְחַיָבִים טוֹבוֹת שֶׁגְמָלַנִי כָּל טוֹב                                                             

All respond:

.מִי שֶׁגְמָלֵךְ כָּל טוֹב, הוּא יִגְמָלֵךְ כָּל טוֹב, סֶלָה

Mi sheh’gmalech kol tov, hu yig’malech kol tov selah.

May the one who has bestowed upon you every kindness bestow upon you every kindness forever.

Mohel recites the following:
He who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac                   ,מִי שֶׁבֵּרַךְ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב
and Jacob, Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon,                                              ,מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן דָוִד וּשְׁלֹמֹה
may He bless the tender boy […]                                                           הוּא יְבָרֵךְ אֶת הַיֶלֶד רַךְ הַנִימוֹל
on account of his being entered into the covenant.       .פלוני בן פלוני ופלונית בַּעֲבוּר שֶׁנִכְנַס לַבְּרִית
May God send him a full and speedy recovery.                           בִּשְׂכַר זֶה הַקָדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יִשְׁלַח לוֹ
And may He raise him towards                                               מְהֵרָה רְפוּאָה שְלֵמָה בְּכָל רַמַ’’ח אֵבָרָיו
torah, the marriage canopy, and good deeds,                           ,וּשְׁסָ’’ה גִידָיו וִיגַדְלוּהוּ לְתוֹרָה, וּלְחֻפָּה
and let us say, amen.                                                                              .וּלְמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים, וְנֹאמַר, אָמֵן

Priestly blessing is recited:
May God bless and protect you.                                                                                ,יְבָרֶכְךָ ה’ וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
May God shine his face upon you and be gracious to you.                              ,יָאֵר ה’ פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶךָּ
May God turn to you and grant you peace.                                     .יִשָׂא ה’ פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם

The baby is passed to the kvatterins and exits the room.

All are welcome to join us for a festive meal.

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