June 14, 2006

Godless bris

Dorothy Greenbaum is the mohel who performed the bris for both Eli and Sam, and we were very impressed with her. Eli cried not at all, Sam just barely, and parents and guests were kept reasonably calm and a bit uplifted. So naturally we wanted her to snip our little Jew boy too when. The only thing was, she did kinda go on and on about God, and as you may know, that's not really our thing.

So we wondered, would Dr. Greenbaum mind conducting a ceremony that omitted all the God talk (other than the one or two prayers required to make it kosher)? We had high hopes. After all, here's what she says on her site:

I will perform a bris on a baby who is born of a Jewish parent, or adopted by a Jewish person with the intention of raising the child as a Jew. I have performed berit milah for "traditional" two-parent families, interfaith couples, single parents, gay and lesbian parents, multicultural families, and any other combination you can think of. Sometimes the only thing my families have in common is that they are going to raise their son as a Jew.

Well, everybody in our family is Jewish and I'm not even a metrosexual, so we figured no problem. Here's what she wrote back:

Dear Daniel:
Mazel Tov on the upcoming birth of your babies!
I am sorry that I will not be able to perform a bris ceremony without
invoking God.
As a pediatrician for over 20 years, and a mother for over 30, I simply
could not possibly do so.
Mazel Tov again on your wonderful news.
Dr. Dorothy Greenbaum

Now, if she'd said, 'as a mohel,' or as a 'religious leader,' or 'as a Jew,' or even just 'no, sorry,' that would have been fine. After all, her faith is important to her. No biggie. But 'as a pediatrician and a mother'?! The clear implication here is that belief in God is required for both, and by extension, Gina's not going to be a good mother. Nice that she said Mazel Tov, though. What's Hebrew for Go Fuck Yourself?

Fortunately, Tobi and Ross from our congregation were able to recommend a mohel they used twice (two sons; not that he didn't get it right the first time) who had no problem accommodating them. They even asked him to say the required prayers "quietly and only in Hebrew," which is yet more strict than we'll be. For us, he can say them as loud as he wants. In Hebrew.

Also, he's going to do a ceremony for our girl baby at the same time. I don't think there will be any cutting involved in that.

The bris is an important thing to us (well, to me, anyway), though obviously Greenbaum can't understand that, but since the ceremony will not, even in its God-lite version, be a true Humanistic one, we're keeping it low key, and will be holding a full-blown naming-ceremony, with our own rabbi and plenty of food, after the first month or so. That's the one you'll want to come to.

Posted by DLR at 11:54 AM