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Bris Milah Honors 

The following is a list of honorees at a Bris (Brit) ceremony, what they do, who traditionally is selected for the honor, and how important the honor is seen to be:

 
  1. The Kvatterin (colloquially: godmother)       

  • The kvatter is the male half of a husband/wife team. The wife, known as the kvatterin, takes the child from his mother and brings it to the entrance of the circumcision room, where she hands him off to her husband.

  • After the Brit is over, she brings him back to his mother.

  • This is the one formal honor bestowed upon a woman at a Bris (Brit).

  • In some communities the baby is passed from woman to woman, each bringing him closer to the Bris (Brit) room.

  • Some do not allow a pregnant woman to be the kavatterin as she might become frightened by the bris (Brit), and cause harm to her unborn child.

  2.  The Kvatter (colloquially: godfather)

  • Kvatter is the name for the person who carries the newborn baby to the room where the circumcision will be held. The kvatter hands the child to the person who is honored with placing the baby on “Elijah’s Chair.”

  • In some communities the baby is passed from man to man, each bringing the baby closer to the bris area.

  • This honour is often designated to a couple seeking to have a child, as this honor is deemed propitious for this purpose.

  • It is customary for the kvatterin to be clad in Shabbat finery, and for the kvatter to be wearing a Tallit.

 

  3.  Honor of “Elijah’s Chair” -כסא אליהו

  • Places the baby on the chair designated as the Throne of Elijah. Some place great emphasis on this honor.

 

  4.  Honor From “Elijah’s Chair” - כסא אליהו

  • Takes the baby from the Throne of Elijah and gives him to his father, who places him on the sandek’s lap.

 

  5.  The Sandek

  • At every bris milah one man is honoured in the role of the Sandek, who holds the baby during the circumcision.  This is the highest honor at a Bris (Brit).

  • ​The role of the Sandek is not only a technical one, but is an expression of the child taking his place in the chain of continuity of the Jewish people spanning generations of time. 

  • The sandek is equated to a kohen burning an incense offering in the Beit HaMikdash, and the position of sandek is considered to be one of merit for long life and prosperity.

  • This is considered the most prestigious honour of the ceremony and is often performed by a grandfather or esteemed Rabbi. 

  • According to Jewish mysticism, the sandek plays a special role in protecting the child from negative forces and in preserving positive energy. It is, therefore, important to choose a righteous person as the sandek. If the sandek is a righteous man, he can help in drawing down a holy soul for the child. In fact, the child takes the good character traits from the sandek and shares a spiritual connection with him.

 

  6.  Honor from "Sandek"

  • Takes the baby from the sandek at the conclusion of the circumcision and gives him to the “standing sandek.”

 

  7.  The Sandek Me'Umad

  • The Sandek Me'umad, or  “standing sandek” holds the baby while the blessings and prayer are recited and the baby is given his Jewish name. The Arizal considers this to be an important honor.

 

  8.  Blessings 

  • The one who is honored with reading the blessings recites the two blessings following the circumcision.

  • This honor is often bestowed on the rabbi, mohel, or sandek.

 

  9.  Naming the baby

  • The one who is honored with giving the name recites the prayer during which the baby is given his Jewish name.

  • This honor is often bestowed on the rabbi, mohel, orsandek, and it is often combined with that of reciting the blessings.

 

  10. Mezamen

  • It is customary to have s special Se'udas Mitzvah , or festive meal , on the day of the bris. One man is designated to lead the special grace after meals for this occasion.

  • The leader of Birchas HaMazon (Grace after Meals) recites the invitation to begin the Grace after Meals following the festive meal and recites the special Harachamon prayers.

  • In some communities, the mohel is accorded this honor. In others, a different person recites each Harachamon prayer.

 

 

In Summary

The mother gives the child to the kvatterin, who passes him to the kvatter, who then passes him to the person who will place him on the Chair of Elijah. He is then taken from the chair and given to the father, who places the child in the lap of the sandek. The mohel then performs the Bris (Brit). Afterwards, the child is taken from the sandek’s lap and given to the standing sandek; the blessings are recited, and the name is given. Then the child is returned to the mother by way of the kvatter and kvatterin.

Honors at the Bris:  (numbers in parenthesis

represent the order of importance)

 

  • Kvatter (5)

  • Placing the baby on the throne of Elijah (4)

  • Lifting the baby from the throne (6) *

  • Sandak (1)

  • Lifting the baby from the Sandak (7)*

  • Standing Sandak (2)

  • Reciting the Brachos (3) **

 

* This Honor is optional

​**Usually the officiating Rabbi or Mohel recites the Hebrew Brachos and the prayer where your child's Jewish name is declared

 

 

 

Mazel Tov on the birth of your new child! May you merit bringing him into the covenant of Abraham.

 

Congratulations! You have chosen to use Rabbi Nechemia Markovits as the Mohel to perform the circumcision for your son.

 

Many people contact the Mohel well before the baby is born in order to become familiar with the many details involved in a Jewish circumcision (Bris Milah) and ceremony.

 

  1. Please submit the information form [here]

  2. Upon receipt of your information you will receive a "Bris-Milah package" which includes: Bris-Milah Parent Guide, forms to fill out and checklist of items that you will need to prepare for the Bris Milah .

  3. Upon the birth your child please contact Rabbi Markovits to finalize plans.