Progressive circumcision ceremonies resume

Reform and Liberal mohalim had suspended their work in March because of coronavirus


Progressive circumcision ceremonies have resumed after mohelim took the dramatic step of suspending them for two months because of the threat of coronavirus.

Surrey-based GP Howard Cohen, one of the four members of the Association of Reform and Liberal Mohalim, has performed a number of britot milah at his clinic on Sunday over the past month.

He said two of his other colleagues were now available for home visits.

The ARLM took its decision to suspend services in March, citing the overriding Jewish value of pikuach nefesh, saving life.

Dr Cohen said that had been “hard” but felt that “to take undue risk with families I was coming into contact with was questionable”.

He was also concerned that in the rare instances when a boy might need medical attention after a brit “would it be appropriate to admit them into a struggling NHS system?”.

But he had resumed britot when the overall medical situation changed and his local hospital started doing more routine, non-covid procedures.

As there was a separate community hospital, patients with coronavirus symptoms were more likely to go there than come to his clinic.

Other than himself and the baby, only the parents are allowed to attend in person and “I wear mask and gown throughout the encounter”.

Other relatives can watch the ceremony on livestream – “we have done a Zoom brit for a family in Rio de Janeiro and another in Portland, Oregon”.

In four weeks, he has done 14 circumcisions  -10 on Jewish boys and four for families of other faiths who prefer a Jewish practitioner.

Of the 10 britot, six had been delayed because of the suspension of ceremonies.

Orthodox circumcisions continued with the implementation of special measures.

These included "appropriate PPE for mohelim, ensuring the only non-householder present was the mohel, and delaying milah if family self-isolation was required," a spokesman for Milah UK, the circumcision defence organisation, said."Zoom broadcasts were offered to families where appropriate. There have been no reported complications."


Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive