The Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, best known for performing halakhic marriages for over 35,000 Israeli secular couples (a service also given by the Israeli Rabbinate, but Zohar advertises that it makes the ceremony meaningful to the non-observant), has launched a new program to prepare parents who are circumcising their sons according to normative Jewish law.
Tzohar was founded 15 years ago by Zionist rabbis to try to bridge the gap between religious and secular societies, by creating user-friendly interfaces for secular Israelis, on matters of Jewish law that they are legally required to adhere to in Israel.
There is close to 100% consensus on performing circumcision in Israel,, with most mohalim (ritual circumcisors) explaining the process to new parents, who generally are familiar with it. However, there are some Jewish parents who choose not to circumcise their sons today. This is in marked contrast to the thousands of adult male Russian immigrants who, when the mass immigration of Russian Jews to Israel took place, wished to be circumcised as soon as possible. At that time, ritual circumcisors - and doctors whom they trained for the task due to the large demand - performed this mitzvah (commandment) with the added joy of renewing Judaism after years of Soviet persecution of Jews.
Zohar feels it can improve the experience for parents in its new program. It will certify mohels (ritual circumcisers) in collaboration with the Israeli Health Ministry and the Israeli rabbinate, as required. The mohels will undergo additional training through Tzohar that will focus on making sure that the parents feel best informed about the experience that their new son will undergo.
“Beyond the physical aspects of the Brit Milah which all parents naturally find stressful, we know that secular couples in particular can find the rituals associated with this process to be confusing and even alienating,” said Rabbi David Stav, Chairman and co-Founder of Tzohar. “The goal is therefore to provide parents with an informed and compassionate partner in this process so they can appreciate the importance of this historical Jewish custom.”.
“This is a tradition which has defined our people for thousands of years and any threat to its continuation, particularly here in the modern Jewish State, should be confronted before the numbers of Jewish boys being denied a Brit Milah grows to troubling proportions,” he said.
Zohar says that its mohels will offer specific services not always provided by other professionals in Israel.
Every mohel meets with the parents before the procedure, as halakha requires him to do a careful check of the medical condition of the child and he usually has a talk with the parents as well. Zohar hopes to make this meeting even better by carefully going over the medical and ritual aspects of the circumcision with the parents before performing it. Every mohel comes to check the child again after the procedure and is available to answer medical questions that might arise. Zohar-trained mohels will also continue to remain touch with the parents.