I opened my closet doors, thumbed through some shirts and wondered, “what do you wear to a circumcision?”
Having never been to a Bris, I hadn’t ever considered this particular wardrobe dilemma.
I tossed a stack of sweaters on the bed. Gazed for a moment. Then put them back on the shelf, deciding that turtlenecks were definitely out.
After a few more minutes of debate, I decided to play it safe with funeral attire.
This, as it turns out, is the wrong attire for a bris. Apparently circumcisions are strictly business casual.
A bris, for all you goyim out there, is a ceremony where newborn Jewish boys are circumcised in public.
This is followed by cringing, vomiting, crying and bagels.
The circumcision is performed by a Mohel (pronounced Moy-ul). A Mohel is a professional baby circumciser.
Let me repeat that.
He is a professional. At circumcising babies. That’s his job.
Keep that in mind next time you’re complaining about timesheets.
Also keep in mind that, somewhere out there, there’s a graphic designer who was asked to create a business card.
For the Mohel. With a logo. A professional circumcision logo.
I’m just saying.
After a few minutes of milling around and making the most awkward small talk you can possibly imagine, it was time for the bris ceremony to begin.
I will only say that the bris itself was dreadful. And we shall never speak of it again.
After the bris, we filed into the adjoining room to find a lush post-circumcision spread of bagels, cream cheese, lox and, of course, thinly sliced cucumber.
There was also smoked whitefish. Which, ironically, still had their heads fully intact.
I filled my plate and tried to muster an appetite.
As I took a bite of bagel, the Mohel poured himself a diet coke. I watched in horror as people approached him to shake his hand. Weren’t you paying attention?!?!!?!?
Swallowing my bagel, I wished for something much stronger than Diet Coke.
To those unaccustomed with the origins of the brit milah, this may seem like a strange tradition. And indeed it is.
But it’s dictated in the book of Genesis, that every Jewish boy shall undergo this ceremony as a mark of the covenant between god and man.
According to the verse (17:1-14) “When Abraham was 99 years old, god appeared before him and offered a covenant… ‘I will make you the father to many nations. And I will give unto you and your descendents the land of Canaan.’” In return, god wanted just one small thing:
“This is my covenant between me, and between you and your offspring: You must circumcise every male. You shall be circumcised through the flesh of your foreskin. For it is only by stripping the bark from the love log, that this covenant will be fulfilled.
You shall wait until they have reached eight days of age and then you shall whittle their wankers. Not seven or nine days. For these are the incorrect number of days to peel the lap carrot. Nor shall you abridge the volume on day ten. Eight is the correct number of days. And the eighth shall be the day that you dock the dude piston.
This shall be the mark of our covenant between me and between you and your descendants throughout their generations, an eternal covenant: you shall tidy the ankle spanker.
And I shall bestow unto you the land of Canaan and I shall increase your property values very, very much.
To fulfill this, our covenant, you shall follow these rules that I bestow upon you, as this is way that you shall smite the salami. You will gather your friends and your family to bear witness to Sherman’s March. And they shall be reminded of their own sacrifices.
By which, I refer to their wobblies. Which they hath curtailed in the name of the lord.
Thou shalt not try this at home. Instead, it is by my word that you shall bring forth a professional circumcisor to tailor the hoodie. He shall have many references. And this man shall be called a “Mohel.”
Thou shalt not pronounce the letter H. The letter H shall instead be pronounced as the letter Y. This is the covenant between me and you and your offspring that you must keep.
You shall give your son ceremoniously, on the eighth day, unto the Mohel so that he may unwrap the baloney pony. He shall recite the blessing over the beef bayonet and then he shall go south and rezone the panhandle. And your son shall cry. And the men shall cringe. And they shall look away. And they shall try to find a happy place.
This will be the ceremony in which you will peel the zipper shrimp.
Then, after you hath taken the lettuce off the Whopper, you shall go forth and eat bagels and discuss the Mets.
This is the covenant between me and between you that you must keep.”
Abraham agreed to this because, at 99 years old, his hearing was poor.
And so it is, that every Jewish boy, at eight days of age, comes to learn that every problem in life starts and ends with his penis.