In the words of the “great” Bob Grant “things are sick out there and getting sicker”. The kicker is this “It’s a custom, a strong custom, but there’s no law except that the mohel be Jewish,” says Rabbi Donni Aaron, director of the Reform Berit Mila Program”!!! Why don’t the editors of this article think of consulting some REAL rabbis?
When Dr. Debra Weiss-Ishai watched her son’s brit milah two years ago, she thought to herself, I could do this better. Not just technically, although as a pediatrician she had done numerous medical circumcisions. She felt she could bring a warmth and spiritual beauty to the ritual in ways her old-school mohel, who she says “rushed through” the ceremony, did not. Last April Weiss-Ishai completed the Reform movement’s Berit Mila Program, an intensive 35-hour certification course for physicians and nurse-midwives at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. She now has performed seven or eight Jewish ritual circumcisions in the San Francisco Bay area. Weiss-Ishai spends hours preparing for each brit milah…..Weiss-Ishai is one of just a few female mohels in the United States. There are about 35 Reform female mohels, and just four trained by the U.S. Conservative movement, as well as a handful trained by the Conservative movement outside the United States….It’s not surprising that throughout Jewish history, mohels have been men. Circumcision is, after all, a guy thing. Beyond the obvious anatomical requirements, it’s something the Torah commands a father, not a mother, to do for his son on the eighth day of life.
Yet unlike rabbis and cantors, there is no halachic prohibition against female mohels. Every Orthodox authority consulted for this story agreed on that point, though most asked not to be quoted.
“It’s a custom, a strong custom, but there’s no law except that the mohel be Jewish,” says Rabbi Donni Aaron, director of the Reform Berit Mila Program……Her male rabbi told her that women bring “a gentleness, a sensitivity” to the ceremony, but she says there are other things. “With men, when you talk about circumcision, there’s an instinctive protecting of the genitals. I’m a little more thick-skinned. And as a mother, I can empathize with that mother’s feelings and tenderness toward that child. I can reassure her, perhaps more than a male mohel can.” At the end of every brit milah, “sometimes surreptitiously,” Radovsky says, she kisses the baby’s head to welcome him into the Jewish community. “I really feel I can make a difference in the world,” she says.