Started With a Bris, Ended With a Bang

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Brit and Bang 1

Written by Simi Monheit. Simi is a first-time Jewrotica writer. PG-13

It had started with a circumcision. Of course it had. This particular circumcision, however, was not one that Sydney was particularly affected by. Around three weeks ago her younger brother, Benny, and his wife, Frima Sara (formerly known as Francine), were blessed by the birth of their first son. Naturally, they’d had a circumcision. But not your ordinary, early morning, bagel and lox circumcision.

Since Frima Sara was new to Orthodox Judaism, and since this was her first son, and since whatever she did was always the best and only way for anything to be done, this bris, as a circumcision is properly referred to by people in the know, was a full-on catered affair, strictly kosher, dress code casual, and hosted in the ballroom of one of the most magnificent synagogues on all of Long Island. The wonderful baby boy, unnamed until after the bris, had even considerately timed his arrival exactly eight days earlier, ensuring that his bris would take place on a Sunday morning. This happy timing guaranteed that nobody had an excuse to pray, eat, and run to work, the common practice at a regular weekday morning event.

It would have been nice, of course, if the baby had been born on Shabbas, but really Sunday was so much more convenient given the Shabbas restrictions against travel and cooking. It was generally agreed that Sunday mornings were the perfect time for a bris, and Little Baby Mandell had accommodated his mother’s wishes. Not like he was ever gonna have much choice with that, Sydney had thought, meanly, when she received the call about the birth. She loved her baby brother; the newly evolved Frima Sara was a work in progress.

But Sydney had been happy for them, and was excited by the idea of a new, round, sweet-smelling baby. She’d dressed carefully when she’d gotten up at dawn, making sure she left enough time to reach Long Island before the ceremony began. Even though she knew that all she could do from behind the curtain that blocked off the women’s section of the shul would be to gaze upon her sister-in-law and wish her strength as she handed her tiny baby over to the brutal, arguably barbaric rite of entry to the covenant between all Jewish males and God. As an unmarried childless woman Sydney was not in a position to offer her sister-in-law any meaningful solace. She could only sit with other unmarried hopefuls, and dream, or given their location, perhaps pray, for the day when she would be the woman sitting in the center of the circle, waiting to hear the wail of her newborn when his foreskin was lovingly, precisely, and ruthlessly sliced off his tender tiny penis.

And then the party. There were balloons festooning the ceiling, bright blue centerpieces of papier-mâché rocket ships and football helmets, tables laden with bagels, lox, whitefish salad, humus, pita, and bean salads, an omelet and waffle station, and a dessert table covered with every kind of danish, muffin, brownie, blue-iced cupcake, cheesecake and coffee crumble cake. In the center of the dessert table was an enormous challah, over which Yoni, Sydney’s older brother, recited the traditional bracha. Sydney was touched to see tears in his eyes, as well as in Benny’s and her father’s. She knew that her father had been the Sandek, the person who holds the baby’s legs still during the actual circumcision, the highest, most difficult honor bestowed at a bris. She was swallowing back her own tears when she felt a tap, more like a shove, on her shoulder. Her parents were beaming at her, and her father was holding out a piece of challah. “Shandaleh, have some, make a bracha, it’s mazaldik, (good luck), Em Yirtzah Hashem by you.” (God willing, your turn will come).

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