March 19, 2009
When Katya and Arthur called to ask if I could photograph their newborn son’s Bris, like most guys I winced a bit. A Bris, or “Brit Milah” is the Jewish ceremony of circumcision. I have never photographed this type ceremony before, nor had I ever even seen it performed.
Katya and Arthur are both photographers themselves, so pictures of important moments in their lives are a priority for them. Particularly important moments involving their brand new first child.
Like me, they love storytelling, documentary photography. It is always very flattering when other photographers ask me to photograph sacred moments in their lives. It does come with a certain amount of expectation and pressure, but what higher compliment can one photographer give to another than inviting you to record such moving events of profound personal significance.
Typically a Bris takes place 8 days after the birth of a male child. It is performed in the home by a religious person known as a “mohel”. The ceremony takes place in the presence of friends and family and is followed by a meal. Some may wonder how a procedure like this can be performed outside a hospital or pediatrician’s office, but after witnessing the event I can think of no better venue. I am reminded of my own children undergoing this procedure in the hospital nursery, alone except for the doctor and nurse. Little Ilan, the name chosen for him by Katya and Arthur and given to him during this ceremony, underwent this meaningful rite of passage surrounded by the love and warmth of the people who care for him most.
One of the things I admire about Judaism is the importance placed on the involvement of family in all religious ceremonies.
It was a very touching and emotional event to say the least.