The movement to name newborn Jewish boys without the surgery of circumcision has reached a milestone—200 celebrants (officiants) are available to perform the ceremony. More than 120 of these are rabbis.
Called brit shalom (Hebrew for covenant of peace), this alternative naming ceremony may correspond in most ways with traditional brit milah, except that there is no cutting of the baby.
“They’re especially happy ceremonies, for that reason,” says Mark Reiss, M.D.
For 14 years, Dr. Reiss, of San Francisco, has been recruiting celebrants of brit shalom for his web page. He estimates
that 300-500 boys are welcomed into their U.S. Jewish communities with brit shalom ceremonies every year. Most U.S. states, several Canadian provinces, and other countries are represented on the list. Twelve of the celebrants are in Israel.
“The celebrants include rabbis, cantors and other lay leaders, who need not reject circumcision themselves, but want to accommodate parents who do. New celebrants are always welcome,” says Dr. Reiss.