Outline of Bris Ceremony
Baruch Haba - welcoming in the child
The child is brought into the room where the guests eagerly await him. Everyone calls Baruch Haba (welcome) to welcome him inside at this special and meaningful time. Opening remarks and kind words are made by the Mohel or family Rabbi.
Carried in by the Kevaterin (Godmother)
The child is carried in on a pillow by the Kevatarin or Godmother she has no legal responsibilities). The Kevatarin can be a friend or relative (sister, sister-in-law, aunt, grandmother, etc.). Customarily, this honor is given to a woman who is looking to have children as the performance of tis mitzvah is considered a Segulah (omen) for her. Just as she is gracious in lovingly accompanying another woman's son to his Bris, we pray that G-d will in turn, grant her the thrill and honor of bringing her own son to his Bris.
Passed to the Kevater (Godfather)
The Kevaterin gently passed the baby to the Kvatter (Godfather). Usually this will be the husband of the Godmother, especially in a case where these honors are being bestowed on a couple hoping to be blessed with their own children. The Godfather can be a friend or relative (brother, brother-in-law, uncle, or grandfather, etc.). Here, too, there are no legal responsibilities.
The mohel or the Rabbi leads everyone in greeting and welcoming the infant to his family and to the Jewish community.
A Special Seat - Kisei Shel Eliyahu (Throne of Elijah)
In some communities, a very special chair is set aside for the Bris and the baby is placed upon this on an ornate pillow or drapery. This chair is known as the Throne of Elijah the Prophet. According to tradition, Elijah is remembered at the Bris because he championed circumcision during his lifetime. Some people consider it a good omen to sit on this chair after the Bris takes place.
The Sandek (man of honor) Holds the Baby
The baby is then presented by his father to the Sandek. The role of Sandek is the highest honor bestowed at the Bris and it is usually given to the baby's grandfather or some other prominent member of the family. On occasion, a prominent Rabbi will be offered the prestigious honor of Sandek. It is not advisable for the babies father to act as Sandek as it is quite an emotional time and is difficult for a father to remain composed throughout the ceremony.
The Bris itself
The mohel recites the relevant prayers and performs the Bris. Following the technical part of the Bris, The mohel leads the community in reciting blessings. During the blessings, it is customary for the child to be held by another honored guest.
Recitation of Berachot (Blessings)
A blessing is recited on a cup of wine which symbolizes happiness and festivity.
A second blessing celebrates the first ever Bris that a father performed on his son - namely the Bris our patriarch, Abraham, performed on his son, Isaac. This benediction concludes with a prayer for the welfare of the newborn infant.
The eagerly-awaited Naming
This is the moment most of the assembled congregation has been waiting for - the child’s Hebrew name is called out. Until the Bris takes place, most Jewish parents will not reveal (or even decide upon) a name.
The beautiful blessings that accompany the naming include prayers for the wellbeing of the parents, an expression of thanks to G-d for the arrival of the child and a prayer that the infant boy to grow to reach his full potential as a Jewish man. It is customary to repeat the hope that this baby will grow up to get married and be a righteous and upstanding person.
No celebration is complete without a Festive Meal
A festive meal is held in honor of the Bris. This is often accompanied by singing and heartfelt speeches during which one of the parents or guests is given the opportunity to explain the choice and significance of the child’s name. Often the meaning of the name will be explained and, if the child is being named for someone, the speaker will usually describe the personality and wonderful character traits of the individual being named for. The explanation of the name is unquestionably the most moving and poignant part of the ceremony.