Brit shalom (naming ceremony)
Brit shalom (Hebrew: ברית שלום ("covenant of peace"), also known as alternative brit (or bris in Yiddish and Ashkenazi Hebrew), is a naming ceremony for newborn Jewish boys that does not involve circumcision. It is intended to replace the traditional brit milah also known as brit chayim, brit tikkun, brit ben. The term is generally not used for girls, since their naming ceremony does not involve genital cutting.
The brit shalom can be performed by a rabbi or a lay person, depending on the parents' personal preference. A ceremony can be created by the family, using templates and samples that are available. One portion of the ritual, Brit rechitzah, involves the washing of the baby's feet.
Though brit shalom is best known in Humanistic Judaism, Reform Judaism, and Progressive Judaism, it can be found in any non-Orthodox movement of Judaism and is becoming better known as the topic of circumcision has received much media attention. Currently, there are more than 50 rabbis who offer brit shalom services in the United States, five rabbis in Canada, and others in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Some human rights groups, such as Beyond the Bris and Jews Against Circumcision, advocate for brit shalom to replace brit milah.
The questions of circumcision and Jewish identity remain a topic of debate between traditional and progressive Jewry. Ritual circumcision of a male child on the eighth day of life is part of Jewish law. Although one does not need to be circumcised to be Jewish, Orthodox Jews consider an intended failure to follow this commandment as bringing forth the penalty of kareth, or being cut off from the community, as well as being indicative of a conscious decision to cut oneself off from his people. However, even in the most Orthodox groups, Jewish identity is defined by matrilineal descent. A child born to a Jewish mother is identified as Jewish, regardless of the status of the genitals. In Progressive Judaism, uncircumcised boys are usually accepted for religious training and bar mitzvah if they are sons of a Jewish mother and have been raised with a Jewish identity. Movements that do not see Jewish law as binding, such as Reform Judaism and Humanistic Judaism, may allow this ceremony. These more progressive branches of Judaism can also recognize Jewish identity by patrilineal descent.
- Goodman, J.. Jewish circumcision: an alternative perspective. BJU Int.. 1999;83 Suppl 1:22-27. PMID 10349411.
- Brit Shalom, based on Brit Without Milah which includes details of ceremonies
- Celebrants of Brit Shalom
- Jewish Circumcision.org - An anti-circumcision site that focuses Jewish practices.
- Noharmm.org - An anti-circumcision article from a Jewish feminist perspective.
- City Risking Babies' Lives… - Controversy over metzitza be'peh.
- Jews Against Circumcision - A Jewish group that supports Brit Shalom.