First bris: I’m a fifth-generation mohel. My father passed away when he was 47, in October of ‘66. I started in June of ‘66 full time. I had to support my six younger brothers and sisters. I was 21. Now I have a son (Eliezer Krohn) and a son-in-law (Ephraim Perlstein) who are mohels.
Most Memorable Bris: I went to Bridgeport, Conn., and the parents warned me I must come on time. I came early, and I saw they had people on the roof with guns — Secret Service. It turns out Joe Lieberman, who was running for vice president at the time, was the sandek [godfather]. Afterward, someone told me, “You know, there was a gun on you the whole bris. This fellow was running for vice president and you had a knife three inches from his heart.” Since then, I’ve davened with Joe many times. I did his grandson’s bris.
On doctors: Lately, many of the Conservative and Reform rabbis are pushing doctors to perform bris milah, but a bris is not a medical procedure. It has medicinal value, but that’s not what the focus of a bris should be about. A top mohel is not only a practitioner. A mohel is somebody who performs a ceremony so that when people walk away they say: This is what Hashem meant by a bris milah.
Inspiration: Abraham – the patriarch. When I went to the Cave of the Patriarchs and davened by the grave of Avraham Avinu, there was a certain feeling that came over me. Avraham was the first kiruv outreach professional. He was the first mohel. A mohel is supposed to use the bris as an opportunity to sanctify the name of Heaven. I was so overwhelmed, I just started crying. And, of course, my father was Avraham, and he was the one who taught me bris milah.
Number of brises: The Gemara [Talmud] says a person should not count because it’s an ayin hara [evil eye]. I’ve been a mohel over 40 years. I’ve been in just about every shul in New York.
Anesthesia: When parents request it.
What you do when you’re not circumcising: I’ve written 12 books. I do a lot of public speaking.
Price: Anyplace between $500 and $800.
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