Bintel Blog

A Cut Above the Rest: In Search of the Perfect Mohel

By Daniel Treiman

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Sam Apple, author of the delightful “Schlepping Through the Alps: My Search for Austria’s Jewish Past With Its Last Wandering Shepherd,” has just published a hilarious essay on the Los Angeles Times Web site about his search for a mohel to circumcise his son. The setup:

I did not want just anyone to cut my son’s penis. I wanted the best. And so when my wife, Jennifer, neared the end of her pregnancy, I decided to interview mohels.

I had good reason to be nervous about ritual circumcisers. In 2004, three New York babies contracted herpes from a mohel, who, in keeping with an ultra-Orthodox Jewish tradition, used his mouth to draw blood from the wound. I had no intention of letting a mohel — or anyone else for that matter — put his mouth on my newborn son’s genitals, but the moral of the story was clear enough: If you’re going to chop off part of someone’s penis without asking permission, you’d better choose your chopper with care.

The full article is here.

The essay is a finalist in the “Be Joel Stein” contest run by the L.A. Times columnist of the same name. You can vote for your favorite (i.e. Sam Apple’s essay) here.

Full Disclosure: Sam’s a good friend of mine (but don’t hold that against him). I was even at his son’s bris.



Comments
Eric Solstein Fri. Jul 13, 2007

Hey, want someone you can trust - do it yourself. I did. Though I admit, I waited for the birth of my second son to do it... and I was taking notes the first time. Yes, I had a mohel, same guy for both boys. It didn't look too difficult. Mohel makes a little speech, then he takes care of the prayers along with the assembled multitude. Next he places the pee-pee in a little clamp, and a flick of the wrist. Brief whine followed by wine, the Mohel takes his "gratuity" before he buzzes off to the next affirmation of faith. And he does take care of the excised foreskin in the appropriate manner - I assume. When baby brother followed some six years later, I was asked what he assured me I had been asked before. (I was more nervous about it back then, and can't say I recall). "Really?" What followed was a quick demonstration on an imaginary child. The actual physical task looked to be far less demanding then slicing an onion thin enough not to overpower Sunday breakfast. And I was right. Doing it myself gave me the chance to examine the placement of the clamp on my defenseless son, and the pride of taking a momentous and fateful task to completion in a matter of seconds. And bragging rights, as is obvious.

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