THE BRIT MILAH CEREMONY
OPENING HONORS (CLICK HERE FOR CEREMONY PICTURES AND VIDEO)
The entrance into the covenant that began with Abraham, should be a beautiful and even powerful experience for everyone in attendance. Hazzan Glantz often begins with a few introductory words giving some historical and biblical context to this commandment. If the family has their rabbi or cantor in attendance, they may like to say something at this point as well. Once Hazzan has arranged all the honorees where needs them, baby is typically brought nearer to the room by his parents and handed to the Kvatterin and Kvatter, ultimately resting on the pillow lying on the lap of the Sandek (see more about the honors and peruse the glossary of terms).
THRONE OF ELIJAH
Once baby is on the pillow, Howard has everyone repeat after him the words בָּרוּך הַבָּא – Barukh Haba, words that welcome your son to the area where the bris is to take place known as the כִּסֵה שֶל אֵלִיָּהוּ -the throne of Elijah. Some synagogues have a special chair for britot ceremonies. Some are simply seen and left unused in much the same way as the cup for Elijah on the seder table. There are such chairs as well that are double chairs; one side for the sandek, and the other for the spiritual presence of Elijah. These are often beautiful works of art.
See examples and read more about the throne of Elijah here. A nice project for baby's older siblings and/or cousins to decorate a chair for Elijah with streamers and signs.
THE BRIS ITSELF
At this time the actual procedure begins. As Hazzan Glantz performs his work, he continues to explain our tradition and keeps everyone calm by leading all in attendance in verse, nigunim (wordless melodies) and songs. Before long, baby is back in a parent's arms (usually mom) nursing or having his bottle.
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Read about and hear Hazzan chant and read the prayers said at a bris here. --This feature will likely
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Oftentimes, families would like to add honors for more relatives and friends which is an opportunity to be creative. Hazzan always has some extra readings on cards that can be used. As well, you or another honoree may have their own creative reading, favorite poem or teaching to share.
There is also a European custom of lighting candles at a bris (usually done early on during the initial explanation). They add a soothing element and aesthetic to the room.
Discuss any of this with Hazzan Howard - he takes great pleasure in customizing the ceremony to your needs.
THE NAMING CEREMONY
The naming ceremony is another that can involve honorees and clergy in attendance. Choosing a Hebrew name is an important albeit at times, a stressful process. Your rabbi can be very helpful in this area. Hazzan Glantz not only has much personal experience with naming, having four children of his own, but also much professional experience, so feel free to ask him for assistance and guidance. Some websites do a great job of listing names by letter and/or meaning. Here are some convenient links.
Hebrewname.org has few if any advertisements and gives extensive information included the biblical verses in which names appear.
Jewfaq.org, part of Judaism 101, is non-denominational resource that includes an excellent article explaining the history of Hebrew names in both Ashkenazic and Sephardic/Eidot HaMizrach traditions. This site also contains useful links.
Once the prayers have been made making the name you have chosen officially his, Hazzan will typically turn to parent to say a few words. This can be as simple as a thank you to everyone for attending or a longer history of the person(s) after whom your son is named and anything else you wish to express.
If you are very uncomfortable speaking in public, you are not alone. Some parents ask Hazzan Glantz in advance not to give them the floor and it is best that he know rather than putting someone on the spot. Feel free to write down what you'd like to say. You can either from the get go, give it to Hazzan, a friend or relative to read to read on your behalf, or give it a try and if you do become too farklepmpt (best translation from the yiddish - emotional), someone can take over.
SEUDAT MITZVAH - THE MEAL
Finally - it's time to eat!
If you have selected someone to say the motzi over the bread or challah, Hazzan will announce it and get the whole crowd clapping a rhythm and singing the traditional Siman Tov U'mazel Tov.
It is traditional to provide a Seudat Mitzvah (a kosher feast) in honor of the child and his parents.
The vast majority of brisses Hazzan performs are followed by bagels, spreads and fish trays. This is the easist way to serve kosher foods in a non-kosher space. Many delicatessens describe their meat trays as "kosher style" but please be aware that for any guests who keep kosher, there is no such thing. Food is either kosher or not kosher - especially deli meats. Feel free to consult Hazzan Glantz or your clergy for help in preparing this meal.