Women gain entry into the Jewish bris ritual marketplace

Along with women gaining more leadership positions in synagogues and Jewish education, they are also assuming new ritual roles, most recently that of the “mohel,” those who perform circumcisions, according to the New York Times (March 1, 2020). What is called the brit milah or bris circumcision ceremony has traditionally been conducted by male religious leaders, though it has been taken up by doctors and medical professionals within Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, especially as it has become more lucrative. The broadening of the mohel role inadvertently created a space for women doctors to gain admittance to performing this ceremony. These women professionals “are offering a new option, holistic in its approach, for Jewish parents,” writes Alyson Krueger. One women rabbi says that female mohels tend to emphasize “making everyone, Jews and non-Jews alike, feel welcome and part of the process. They are giving the whole thing a lot more TLC. Some more traditionally oriented parents still prefer male mohels, even if they concede that the ceremony is valid. The mix of entrepreneurialism and Judaism in the work of the mohel appeals to these professional women, who say they have made a lucrative living from it.