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, brit ben, brit chayim, brit tikkun, or bris in Yiddish and Ashkenazi Hebrew, refers to a range of newly created naming ceremonies for Jewish families that involve rejecting the traditional Jewish rite of circumcision.[1][2][3][4][5]

Brit shalom is recognized by secular Jewish organizations affiliated with Humanistic Judaism like the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations, and Society for Humanistic Judaism. Reform Judaism encourages all Jews (beyond extraordinary circumstances) to under go circumcision,[6] although will allow those who are not to participate in Jewish life.[7][8]


The first known ceremony was celebrated by Rabbi Sherwin Wine, the founder of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, around 1970.[9]


There is no universally agreed upon form of Brit Shalom. Some involve the washing of the baby's feet, called Brit rechitzah. 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.[10]


The actual number of brit shalom ceremonies performed per year is unknown. Filmmaker Eli Ungar-Sargon, who is opposed to circumcision, said in 2011, regarding its current popularity, that "calling it a marginal phenomenon would be generous."[11] This was confirmed by a survey conducted by the Jewish Journal among mohalim and brit shalom celebrants in the Los Angeles area.[11] Its popularity in the United States, where it has been promoted by groups such as Beyond the Bris and Jews Against Circumcision,[12][13] is increasing, however.[14][15][16] Even in Israel, more and more parents choose not to circumcise their sons.[17]


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 and from Hashem, 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; a child born to a Jewish mother is recognized as Jewish, regardless of the status of the genitals.[18][19]

In Progressive Judaism, although refusing circumcision is frowned upon, 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 permit it.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Boorstein, Michelle (2013-12-28). "A small but growing number of Jews are questioning the ancient ritual of circumcision". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on 2021-03-15. Retrieved 2022-07-31.
  2. ^ Ghert-Zand, Renee (2011-06-16). "The Jewish Opposition to Circumcision". The Forward. Retrieved 2022-07-30.
  3. ^ Harris, Ben (2021-10-07). "These Jews want to normalize not circumcising — and they want synagogues to help". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Archived from the original on 2021-10-26. Retrieved 2022-07-30. A new organization launching this week aims to make that more likely. The group, called Bruchim (literally “blessed,” but part of a Hebrew phrase that essentially means “welcome”), is seeking to normalize the decision not to circumcise Jewish boys [...] The group is an outgrowth of advocacy that Moss and Bruchim co-founder and executive director, Rebecca Wald, have been doing for decades. Moss first argued against Jewish circumcision in a 1990 essay, and together they outlined an alternative ceremony, brit shalom (literally “covenant of peace”) in a 2015 book and distributed flyers at that year’s Reform movement convention outlining ways for synagogues to be more welcoming for families that had opted out of circumcision.
  4. ^ Victor, Jacob (2007-07-18). "Activists Up Efforts To Cut Circumcision Out of Bris Ritual". The Forward. Archived from the original on 2021-09-04. Retrieved 2022-07-30. After conducting his research, Wolfe decided to forgo circumcising his son. Instead, he arranged a so-called brit shalom ceremony, a newly created ritual that celebrates birth while omitting circumcision.
  5. ^ May, Ali (2019-07-17). "Child Protection Laws Are Clear –Except When It Comes To Male Circumcision". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 2022-08-03. Some Jewish parents have opted for an alternative to Bris Milah, called Brit Shalom, in which the boy is welcomed into the community in a ceremony, but he is not circumcised.
  6. ^ "Resolution on Anti-Circumcision Initiatives". Union for Reform Judaism. Retrieved 2022-08-03.
  7. ^ Moss, Lisa Braver (2015-02-06). "For families choosing not to circumcise, a sea change". J. The Jewish News of Northern California. San Francisco Jewish Community Publications Inc. Archived from the original on 2021-04-16. Retrieved 2022-07-30.
  8. ^ "Humanistic Judaism and anti-circumcision Intactivism". Jewish Business News. 2016-04-06. Retrieved 2022-08-02. All Humanistic Jewish Rabbis officiate at peaceful welcoming and naming ceremonies such as Brit Shalom, Brit Chyam, and Brit B’lee Milah (covenant without cutting). Many Humanistic Rabbis are listed as celebrants of Brit Shalom and Brit B’lee Milah naming ceremonies that exclude circumcision.
  9. ^ 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. According to Gottfried, the earliest known brit shalom ceremony was performed around 1970 by her mentor, Rabbi Sherwin Wine, the founder of the Society for Humanistic Judaism.
  10. ^ "LCSHJ Resolutions". International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Society for Humanistic Judaism. 2016-01-22. Retrieved 2022-08-02. We, the Leadership Conference of Secular and Humanistic Jews, mindful of both our commitments to Jewish identity and to gender equality, affirm that:
    • We welcome into the Jewish community all who identify with the history, culture and fate of the Jewish people. Circumcision is not required for Jewish identity.
    • We support parents making informed decisions whether or not to circumcise their sons.
    • We affirm their right to choose, and we accept and respect their choice.
    • Naming and welcoming ceremonies should be egalitarian. We recommend separating circumcision from welcoming ceremonies.
    Approved April 2002
  11. ^ a b Lowenfeld, Jonah (2011-08-02). "Little-known non-cutting ritual appeals to some who oppose circumcision". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 2022-08-03.
  12. ^ "The Circumcision Debate". My Jewish Learning. Archived from the original on 2021-08-12. Retrieved 2022-07-30. According to a 2017 New York Times article, while “the great majority of Jewish parents still circumcise, and opting out remains almost taboo in much of the mainstream,” the practice is quietly coming under scrutiny from some Jews. The article noted that “a number of parents” who opted out of the circumcision “did not want to speak on the record about their decision, and some rabbis who had done alternative bris ceremonies asked not to be named publicly.”
  13. ^ "Jewish Voices: The Current Judaic Movement to End Circumcision". The Salem News. 2011-08-26. Archived from the original on 2022-03-06. Retrieved 2022-07-30.
  14. ^ Greenberg, Zoe (2017-07-25). "When Jewish Parents Decide Not to Circumcise". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2017-09-14. Retrieved 2022-07-31.
  15. ^ Bradley Hagerty, Barbara (2011-07-25). "Circumcision: Rite Faces Modern Concerns". NPR. Retrieved 2022-08-02.
  16. ^ Silvers, Emma (2012-01-06). "Brit shalom is catching on, for parents who dont want to circumcise their child". J. The Jewish News of Northern California. San Francisco Jewish Community Publications Inc. Archived from the original on 2022-07-29. Retrieved 2022-07-30.
  17. ^ Ahituv, Netta (2012-06-14). "Even in Israel, More and More Parents Choose Not to Circumcise Their Sons". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 2022-05-25. Retrieved 2022-07-31.
  18. ^ Wald, Rebecca. "Circumcision doesn't make someone Jewish". Times of Israel. Retrieved 2022-08-02.
  19. ^ 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."
  20. ^ Moss, Lisa Braver (2014-02-14). "Choosing not to circumcise last frontier of Jewish inclusion". J. The Jewish News of Northern California. San Francisco Jewish Community Publications Inc. Archived from the original on 2021-12-15. Retrieved 2022-07-30.