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Erev Shabbos Jewish Blogging: Brit Milah

As I post, my new nephew is undergoing the important Jewish rite of Brit Milah. The brit, or bris, which means covenant, is the tradition of circumcising a newborn on the eighth day after birth. Since my nephew was born last Friday, today is the ceremony.

I wish I could be there, but they live somewhat far away, and I have deadlines at work. So my Mom will be there, as will my older brother and one of my older half-brothers, meaning that three of the five other male Bursteins in my family who are currently alive will be there to welcome my nephew into the covenant. He should be well taken care of.

For those who are unfamiliar with Judaism, the reason we perform the brit is because it says to do so in the Torah. The commandment to circumcise is given in Genesis 17:10-14 and Leviticus 12:3. It is an outward physical sign of the covenant between the Jewish people and God. It is also a joyous ceremony, with lots of good food served afterward, usually meats. In fact, my other nephew (on gnomi's side) was circumcised during a period of days when we normally refrain from meat, but for the brit that restriction was superseded. In fact, the brit is so important that the ritual is performed even on Yom Kippur; my other half-brother had his brit on Yom Kippur. (Obviously, though, in that case no meal is served.)

And, interestingly enough, my brit wasn't until the ninth day. It is permitted to delay the brit if there are health issues involved, and due to a minor blood problem I had as a newborn my parents waited the extra day.

For more information, see Judaism 101: Brit Milah.

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