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Circumcision wars: Christians opt for Jewish bris

by Brad A. Greenberg

August 20, 2008 | 7:15 pm

Let me get this straight: At the same time some Jewish parents are
moving away from circumcision, Christian parents are using Jewish mohels to consecrate their sons’
covenants with God. Yeah, that makes sense.

Photo
Kushner snips, Watsons watch

Nicole Neroulias, who joined me as a Gralla Fellow two years ago, explains by observing Mark Kushner at work:

The shawls went back into his black bag. But to Megan and Christopher Watson’s happy surprise, the mohel—pronounced “moyle,” the title for a Jewish ritual circumciser—had copies of several prayers appropriate for the Presbyterian parents to read for the occasion.

“We thank You for the miracle of human experience in the birth of our child,” they recited, as Kushner gently rocked their infant before the procedure.

Kushner, who is based in Philadelphia, and Philip Sherman, a mohel in the New York City area, say they have performed more than 30,000 circumcisions since training together in Israel in the 1970s. Most of their business comes from traditional brit milah ceremonies for 8-day-old Jewish boys. But in recent years, they have increasingly catered to Christian families who eschew a hospital procedure in favor of a $300 to $800 house call—a trend Sherman has dubbed “holistic circumcision.”

“They want their babies circumcised in the comfort of their homes surrounded by family and friends, and they want it performed by someone highly experienced, who brings spirituality and meaning to the practice,” he said. “And it’s over in 30 seconds, compared to what hospitals do, which can be from 20 to 45 minutes, with the baby strapped down.”

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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