Brit shalom (naming ceremony)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Brit shalom (Hebrew: ברית שלום‎; "Covenant of Peace"), also called alternative brit (or bris in Yiddish and Ashkenazi Hebrew), brit ben, brit chayim or brit tikkun, is a naming ceremony for newborn Jewish boys that does not involve circumcision.[1] It is intended to replace the traditional brit milah, and is promoted by groups such as Beyond the Bris and Jews Against Circumcision. The term is generally not used for girls, since their naming ceremony does not involve circumcision.[2]

Brit shalom is recognized by organizations affiliated with Humanistic Judaism like the Society for Humanistic Judaism, The Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations, and the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, but not by any of the major denominations in Judaism.[citation needed] Reform Jewish rabbis welcome these families in their communities, although not all of them advertise this in public since it is considered a private matter.[1]


The first Brit shalom ceremony was celebrated by Rabbi Sherwin Wine, the founder of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, around 1970.[3]


There are different forms of brit shalom ceremonies. Some of them involve the washing of the baby's feet, called Brit rechitzah.[4] Brit shalom ceremonies are performed by a rabbi or a lay person; in this context, rabbi does not necessarily imply belief in God, as some celebrants belong to Humanistic Judaism.[5]


The actual number of brit shalom ceremonies performed per year is not known. Filmmaker Eli Ungar-Sargon, who is opposed to circumcision, said regarding its current popularity that "calling it a marginal phenomenon would be generous".[citation needed] This was confirmed by a survey conducted by The Jewish Journal among mohalim and brit shalom celebrants in the Los Angeles area.[citation needed] However, according to The New York Times and NPR, its popularity is increasing.[1][3]

A growing number[6][7][8][9][10][11] of contemporary Jews and Intactivist Jewish groups in the United States, United Kingdom, and Israel, both religious and secular, choose not to circumcise their sons.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] Among the reasons for their choice, Intactivist Jewish parents state that circumcision is a form of child abuse that involves genital mutilation forced on men and violence against helpless infants,[12][13] a violation of children's rights,[9][12][13][7] and their opinion that circumcision is a dangerous,[7][12] unnecessary,[7][12][13] painful,[7][12][13] traumatic and stressful event for the child,[7][12][13] which can cause even further psychophysical complications down the road, including serious disability and even death.[7][14] They are assisted in the celebration of brit shalom by a small number of Reform,[1] Liberal, and Reconstructionist rabbis,[9][11][13] and also by Humanistic Jewish congregations.[15][16]


Ritual circumcision of a male child on the eighth day of life is part of Jewish law.[17] Although one does not need to be circumcised to be Jewish,[1][18] 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 one's people. However, even in the most Orthodox groups, Jewish identity is defined by matrilineal descent;[1] a child born to a Jewish mother is recognized as Jewish, regardless of the status of the genitals.[1][7] In Progressive Judaism, intact 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.[17] Movements that do not see Jewish law as binding, such as Reform Judaism and Humanistic Judaism, may allow this ceremony.[1][5][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h
     • Silvers, Emma (6 January 2012). "Brit shalom is catching on, for parents who dont want to circumcise their child". JWeekly. San Francisco. Archived from the original on 5 August 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.;
     • Braver Moss, Lisa (14 February 2014). "Choosing not to circumcise last frontier of Jewish inclusion". JWeekly. San Francisco. Archived from the original on 22 June 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.;
     • Braver Moss, Lisa (6 February 2015). "For families choosing not to circumcise, a sea change". JWeekly. San Francisco. Archived from the original on 21 June 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  2. ^ "Brit Shalom Information". Brit Shalom Information. Archived from the original on 2021-01-26. Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  3. ^ a b Lowenfeld, Jonah (2 August 2011). "Little-known non-cutting ritual appeals to some who oppose circumcision". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. LA. Archived from the original on 25 August 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  4. ^ "Brit Without Milah". Archived from the original on 2006-04-19. Retrieved 2006-04-26.
  5. ^ a b "LCSHJ Resolutions: Circumcision and Jewish Identity". International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Society for Humanistic Judaism. April 2002. Archived from the original on 25 September 2020. Retrieved 11 March 2020.; "Birth Celebrations". Society for Humanistic Judaism. Farmington Hills, Michigan. 2016. Archived from the original on 22 April 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  6. ^ a b Milos, Marilyn Fayre; Macris, Donna (March–April 1992). "Circumcision: A Medical or a Human Rights Issue?". Journal of Nurse-Midwifery. Elsevier. 37 (2: Supplement): S87–S96. doi:10.1016/0091-2182(92)90012-R. PMID 1573462. Archived from the original on 28 June 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Goodman, J. (January 1999). "Jewish circumcision: an alternative perspective" (PDF). BJU International. Wiley-Blackwell. 83 (Supplement 1): 22–27. doi:10.1046/j.1464-410x.1999.0830s1022.x. PMID 10349411. Archived from the original on 15 July 2020. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  8. ^ a b Chernikoff, Helen (October 3, 2007). "Jewish "intactivists" in U.S. stop circumcising". Reuters. Archived from the original on December 27, 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d Schoenfeld, Victor (2014). "Jewish voices against circumcision getting stronger". Archived from the original on 13 May 2019. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  10. ^ a b Kasher, Rani (23 August 2017). "It's 2017. Time to Talk About Circumcision". Haaretz. Tel Aviv. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Oryszczuk, Stephen (28 February 2018). "The Jewish parents cutting out the bris". The Times of Israel. Jerusalem. Archived from the original on 3 April 2019. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Goldman, Ronald (1997). "Circumcision: A Source of Jewish Pain". Jewish Circumcision Resource Center. Jewish Spectator. Archived from the original on 11 June 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Kimmel, Michael S. (May–June 2001). "The Kindest Un-Cut: Feminism, Judaism, and My Son's Foreskin". Tikkun. Duke University Press. 16 (3): 43–48. Archived from the original on 19 December 2019. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  14. ^ Boyle, Gregory J.; Svoboda, J. Steven; Price, Christopher P.; Turner, J. Neville (2000). "Circumcision of Healthy Boys: Criminal Assault?". Journal of Law and Medicine. 7: 301–310. Archived from the original on 1 August 2020. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  15. ^ Reiss, MD, Dr. Mark (2006). "Celebrants of Brit Shalom". Brit Shalom. Archived from the original on 2014-12-13. Retrieved 2007-10-03.
  16. ^ Goldman, PhD, Ron (2006). "Providers of Brit Shalom". Jews Against Circumcision. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-10-03.
  17. ^ a b c Greenberg, Zoe (25 July 2017), "When Jewish Parents Decide Not to Circumcise", New York Times, archived from the original on 14 September 2017, retrieved 13 September 2017
  18. ^ Kohler, Kaufmann; Hirsch, Emil G.; Jacobs, Joseph; Friedenwald, Aaron; Broydé, Isaac (1906). "Circumcision". Jewish Encyclopedia. Kopelman Foundation. Archived from the original on 8 January 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2020. Unlike Christian baptism, circumcision, however important it may be, is not a sacrament which gives the Jew his religious character as a Jew. An uncircumcised Jew is a full Jew by birth (Ḥul. 4b; 'Ab. Zarah 27a; Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 264, 1). [...] In 1847 Einhorn, as chief rabbi of Mecklenburg, became involved in a controversy with Franz Delitzsch of Rostock, who denounced him for acting contrary to Jewish law in naming and consecrating an uncircumcised child in the synagogue. Einhorn, in an "opinion" published a second time in his "Sinai", 1857, pp. 736 et seq., declared, with references to ancient and modern rabbinical authorities, that a child of Jewish parents was a Jew even if uncircumcised, and retained all the privileges, as well as all the obligations, of a Jew. This view he also expressed in his catechism, his prayer-book, and his sermons, emphasizing the spiritual character of the Abrahamic covenant—"the seal of Abraham placed upon the spirit of Israel as God's covenant people."