Foreskin count: I’ve been working exclusively as a mohel since about 2007. I do a couple hundred per year. When I was a practicing OB-GYN and fertility doctor I did thousands in the hospital.
Trademark: I am not a cut-and-run. I’m touchy feely. I do a lot of talking to the family. I customize the service. I have a lot of alternative readings I offer that run the gamut from traditional Jewish all the way through Buddhist poems or Native American poems. I want the family to tell me what’s authentic to who they are.
Market area: NY metro.
Career Inspiration: I started doing circumcisions as a physician. During my years of residency I was doing thousands, not in a ritual sense but in a surgical sense. Nobody goes to medical school to learn how to do neonatal circumcisions, and nobody’s particularly interested in doing it. But it IS a big deal. I decided that I wanted to do circumcisions with some kind of kavanah [meaning]. Now that I’m doing this as clergy, with the sacredness of the covenant, I do a couple hundred per year. I left my clinical practice as a fertility doctor in 2000 to do research. I’ve been working exclusively as a mohel since about 2007.
Most at once: I choose not to run from one to the next. I have not done more than three in a day, because I spend a significant amount of time with the family.
On being a mohelet: There’s not only no prohibition against women doing this kind of work, but it goes back to the Book of Exodus, when Tziporah, Moses’ wife, circumcised their son. It never struck me as something different or odd or strange. I was not somebody who thought: I’m not allowed to do that because I’m a woman.
Device of choice: Gomco clamp mostly. It’s safer. When there is a complication, it only happens with the Mogen. But I feel very facile at both.
Time: The ceremony can be 20-30 minutes, but under a minute for the circumcision itself.
Anesthesia: Lidocaine numbing cream, Manischewitz and sugar.
What you do with the foreskin: I give the family three options. Either we can bury it together while I’m there, or if they have a place that has meaning – like at the grave of the grandfather for whom the baby is named — I’ll encourage them to bury it there. Or I tell them I can keep the tip.
What you do when you’re not circumcising: I’m an OB-GYN fertility doctor by training, but now I’m a full-time mohel. When I’m not doing a ceremony, I’m writing services, I’m returning phone calls. I also considered becoming a rabbi. That’s a lot of study, and it’s a year in Israel. That’s very disruptive to one’s life.
Looking for a mohel in your area? Check out Kveller’s national Mohel Directory.
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