It’s a boy! Chasdei Hashem! My husband and I were blessed with our very first grandchild. Our daughter-in-law gave birth to a beautiful and precious baby boy, baruch Hashem. Hodu laShem ki tov, ki l’olam chasdo! I am not going to write about the significance of such an awe-inspiring milestone. Sometimes there just are no words that can capture the depth of emotion, joy, and gratitude that one feels. But I would like to share with you the experience of his bris milah.
Over the years, when possible, we preferred to make our s’machos in our home. We just love that intimate, homey feel. But in this particular case, while it was definitely tempting, especially with the limitation on the number of guests allowed, we realized it would be impossible to make the bris milah in our home, as maintaining proper distance would be impossible. Since event halls are currently closed, the front yard of a local elementary school has become a popular venue for s’machos of late. It boasts an expansive and inviting grassy area, multiple tarps to provide shade, stacks of wooden logs lining the outer walls giving a warm and rustic feel, a quaint wooden tree house, and a small petting corner filled with bleating goats. The locals have been celebrating their weddings, bar mitzvahs, and all types of celebrations in this makeshift event hall. So, after considering all of our options (of which there were very few), we decided this would be the perfect place to make our simchah. Since a wedding was scheduled to take place that evening, a beautifully decorated chupah stood in the middle of the yard on the day of our bris milah.
Our guest list consisted of our immediate families as well as siblings of us grandparents (I can’t believe I just wrote that). The large outdoor area gave our small and intimate group more than enough space to spread out far and wide. Couples were treated to their own private tables for two, complete with a solitary flower as a centerpiece. My daughter-in-law’s relatives brought a kisei shel Eliyahu, a family heirloom, which her great-grandfather built with his own bare hands. It is used at all of the brisim in their family.
Getting one of my younger sons to the bris that day proved to be no simple matter. His yeshivah rented a campus in the north and opened two weeks early in order to enable the boys to quarantine and create a capsule so that they would be able to begin the z’man right on time – an admirable strategy for the yeshivah, but not so convenient for us. It added a bit more complication to our bris in the center of the country. So, on the morning of the bris milah, my husband left at the crack of dawn to pick up my son from yeshivah to bring him to the bris. Public transportation would have provided him with way too much undesirable exposure. In order to maintain his status in his capsule, my son arrived in a hazmat suit, looking like a Martian who just flew in on an express space shuttle.
Summer vacation is appropriately the main time that schools conduct any building or renovations. The school next door to our simchah venue was in high gear, quite loudly engaged in construction as our guests arrived for the bris milah. We asked that they please refrain from making noise, at least during the bris ceremony itself. I expected some resistance, but they were very happy to accommodate us.
So, my grandson was ushered into briso shel Avraham Avinu surrounded by his closest family, a Martian, a chupah, to the sounds of goats bleating in the background. The construction workers not only refrained from making noise during the bris, they even came to the fence and joined in and participated in the bris from their perch above. I mentioned to my son that if he was planning to do an arranged marriage for this baby, he may as well do it now. With the chupah already in place and the family present, why wait? My son chuckled but I was only half joking. I know how quickly time flies and that, b’ezras Hashem, his baby’s wedding is not as far off as he thinks.
Suzie (nee Schapiro) Steinberg grew up in Kew Gardens Hills. She works as a social worker and lives with her husband and children in Ramat Beit Shemesh.