Etiquette for a Bris

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A bris is a Jewish tradition in which an 8-day-old baby is circumcised in a religious ceremony. As with all ceremony, some etiquette needs to be followed in order to conform to cultural standards and follow with Jewish tradition.

1 Before the Circumcision

Before the circumcision, it is acceptable to mingle with other guests and chat. A bris, like many religious ceremonies, is also a social gathering, and before the child is brought out you are allowed to make small talk and have a glass of wine. You may use the occasion of the bris to give your baby gift t the parents.

2 During the Circumcision

During the circumcision, everyone needs to be quiet. This can be uncomfortable, as the baby will not likely take kindly to being circumcised, and the procedure is not quick. However, the shared pain is a part of Jewish culture, and if you are present at a bris you need to be respectful of this fact and keep your empathy to yourself.

3 After the Circumcision

After the circumcision, the family usually hosts a reception, where you can resume your small talk and have something to eat and drink. The food, needless to say, will be kosher.

4 Roles

You can get more insight from the bris if you understand the various roles and rituals of the ceremony. One key role is the second chair. Only one chair is used, but two are set out -- the second is for the spirit of Elijah, who looks after all circumcisions and therefore needs somewhere to sit while he does so. The Sandek is the person who holds the boy while he is being circumcised, and will usually be the boy's father, grandfather or godfather.

Sam Grover began writing in 2005, also having worked as a behavior therapist and teacher. His work has appeared in New Zealand publications "Critic" and "Logic," where he covered political and educational issues. Grover graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Arts in history.