Liberal Judaism has always recognised the importance of circumcision as a symbol of the covenant and a mark of Jewish identity.
However, it also accepts that there are grounds for questioning the practice, and that some parents choose not to circumcise their sons for reasons of conscience
Usually the Sandek has a pillow on his lap, covered by a towel and will sit opposite to the Mohel on two dining room chairs (without arms). A small table next to the chairs for the Mohel’s instruments and the kiddush wine would be useful.
The circumcision usually takes two or three minutes only, including the time to put a small dressing on. After the circumcision, further prayers are said, including a blessing over wine and the naming of the baby.
Traditionally, the Sandek is a Jewish male, often a grandfather or uncle of the baby (not the father).
Similarly, mums and dads need to choose if they stay in the room or leave. Most who stay feel that the reality was less distressing than their imagination and were glad that they had stayed.
In accordance with General Medical Council Guidelines doctors undertaking male circumcisions are now required to gain written consent from the baby’s parents for the procedure. The form confirms that the parents have been informed of the pros and cons of the procedure and appropriate anaesthetic and analgesic methods. Also, that the parents have been made aware of the potential complications of bleeding, infection and a cosmetically unacceptable outcome, including an estimate of their likelihood and consequences.
Circumcision is a small operation and what your son needs most after the operation from you are lots of cuddles and tender loving care. Keep him well fed, well winded and all should be well.
More information is available on Dr Cohen’s website: www.mohel-circumcision.co.uk
For details of registered members of the Association of Liberal and Reform Mohalim, please contact the Montagu Centre. All the members of this association are medically trained practitioners.