By REBECCA WALD — A few weeks ago I traveled to northern California to attend the brit shalom of the grandson of my friend and colleague Lisa Braver Moss. It was a magical day full of spiritual and personal significance. The ceremony the family chose came from the book, Celebrating Brit Shalom, which Lisa and I co-authored and Kickstarted back in 2015.
It was remarkable to see dozens of guests arriving, taking a copy of our book at the entry, and turning it over in their hands, reading it front and back. The text on the back copy begins: “Today’s Jewish parents have choices — and infant circumcision is one of them. For those who decide not to circumcise, the brit shalom ceremony is an alternative way to welcome a newborn son, give him a Hebrew name, and bring him into the Abrahamic covenant.”
Most of the guests were friends of the parents in their twenties and thirties, some of them with little babies of their own. Some of them were expecting.
The rabbi did a beautiful job officiating at the service, reading from liturgy Lisa and I had written together. At one point in the ceremony, reading from our book, the rabbi said: “By treating this newcomer with empathy, we are setting the tone for a lifetime of compassion and respect for others. Thus, we are observing a foundational principle of Judaism.”
An unknown number of brit shalom ceremonies have taken place since the publication of our guidebook. I am sure all of them were loving and uplifting, each in their own ways, but for me this one topped the charts. Not just because it was Lisa’s grandson’s brit shalom, but because this marks a new era in the Jewish movement to question infant circumcision.
In a few short days (Wednesday, October 6, to be exact) a new organization is coming on the scene. It’s called Bruchim, and its mission is to foster welcoming and inclusive Jewish spaces for those who feel differently about the circumcision tradition. Once the website launches, I hope you’ll come visit. The web address is www.bruchim.online.
Bruchim will not take over, or in any way replace, Beyond the Bris. The two have different missions. BTB has been a source for news and information about the Jewish movement to question infant circumcision, as well as an open forum where guest writers share their thoughts, feelings and beliefs. BTB will continue with this work. Meanwhile, Bruchim will focus on a different kind of important work: building bridges between non-circumcising Jewish people and American Jewish communities.