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2011 - 2014 Reviews


Mohel or pediatrician for circumcision

March 2011

Hi, I am scheduled to deliver a boy any day now and am looking for a highly skilled mohel. My husband & I are not religious but would like someone who has extensive experience performing circumcisions. I have heard this may be preferable to a pediatrician who may not do the procedure as often. Any feedback on your experience with a mohel or pediatrician would be great as well. Expectant Mother


In December, we used Dr. Mark Rubenstein. He is a mostly- retired pediatrician and he was fantastic. He made the ceremony extremely personal and can tailor it however you would like. Everyone who attended said it was the best bris ceremony they had ever seen. Elizabeth
our son was circumcised by Rabbi Gil Leeds in December. He did a perfect job (my father is a pediatric nephrologist and was very impressed by his skill and speed). Rabbi Leeds was also very calming to me, the nervous mother, and he really knows babies - he showed us a couple tricks for calming him. We had a great experience with him - I would use him again. Elena
With complete confidence based on our experience with his work with our two sons, now 6- and 4-years old, we strongly encourage you to contact Dr. Mark Rubenstein, who is a mohel and a pediatrician.

Mark is largely retired from his long, highly-regarded and much-beloved practice in pediatrics, though he keeps his license active as he subs at his old clinic, but he has continued his practice as a mohel.

Mark and his wonderful wife Yvonne came to our home twice and performed the procedure in the context of the ceremony they led but to which we had as much input as we desired; they were pretty much custom-created and, in both cases, were perfect. They bring most of what's necessary and give complete instructions in advance, along with clear understanding of both the physical as well as the spiritual proceedings. As a great bonus, they bring whimsy, charm, humor and love, all of which go a long way toward defusing anxieties about the event.

Even though this procedure was a foregone conclusion in my thinking, it was still difficult to imagine. Mark and Yvonne made them truly meaningful, memorable experiences. To this day, at a soul level I know that this was not a bad experience for our sons but is a life blessing. I have countless reference experiences that confirm that certainty, but one that comes to mind is a dialog I had with our older son one day when he was about 3 and we were showering together. He kept looking at his penis and then at mine (as they both still do) and then he looked up and me and said, 'Daddy will mine ever be like yours?' 'What do you mean, son?' 'Well,I was wondering if mine would stay little like it is or if it would get really big like yours.' At that moment, I said a silent 'Thank you' that this was the only way in which he would have to understand and live with our differences, and I told him to point his finger at the wall. When he did, I put my 3X larger finger next to his, also pointing at the wall. I said, 'It all grows up together, get it?' 'Got it!' 'Good...'

That all felt really right and, I expect, was just an early one of many lessons that are my unique responsibility as the dad to teach our sons about the proper use, care and feeding of their penises. I also will acknowledge that I made a conscious effort to not even imagine being flattered by the way in which my son described our differences.

Mark Rubenstein came to us strongly recommended and we are happy and honored to continue that tradition. He can be reached at: MarkMD@earthlink.net

Blessings on your son(s)


If you decide to go the medical route, I recommend Dr. Chi Lee, in Berkeley. He's a urologist, and he performed a circumcision correction on my son when he was 3 months old, after the pediatric resident in the hospital botched his circumcision. Dr. Lee is extremely competent, and he really knows what he's doing. I would recommend choosing either a mohel or a urologist, unless the pediatrician you find performs lots and lots of circumcisions. -Congratulations on your baby!

Anyone used Mohel Rabbi Gil Leeds?

Feb 2011

Hi! Has anyone used Rabbi Gil Leeds as a Mohel? We are considering using him but I can not find any reviews on line. Would love to hear from anyone who has had experience with him. Thanks! wondering


Rabbi Leeds was truly a wonderful Mohel. He was kind and sensitive, gentle and thoughtful. He listened to our personal requests and allowed our family to set the tone of the ceremony. He followed up with our family after the bris, and I know that everyone I have recommended him to has had a similar experience. I would highly recommend him. Happy
I went with Rabbi Moshe Trager who has done 3000+ brissim. I checked his reviews on Yelp. Spoke to several other local parents who had great things to say. And then talked to him myself a few times beforehand. He's experienced, the fastest (keeps pain to the minimum) and as kind and likeable as the day is long. His ceremony is warm and inclusive. If you are looking for an experienced and welcoming mohel in the bay area, I suggest you consider Rabbi Trager. His number is 415-366-6757. His website is www.calimohel.com Good luck and mazel tov! Baby Boy Mom x3

2009 - 2010 Reviews


Which Mohel to use since Chanan Feld's passing?

Aug 2010

Anyone have experience or hear good things about a traditional mohel in the Bay Area since the passing of Chanan Feld? Berkeley parent


We used Debra Weiss Ishai for my son's bris (she's based in Walnut Creek, but goes anywhere in the Bay Area). Very lovely woman, a doctor, very professional. We'd use her again. http://www.thebrisdoctor.com/ Jessica
The best Bay Area Mohel is Dr. Ralph Berberich. He led the Bris for both of my sons and did an excellent job. He is a wonderful pediatrician and a good man. Dr. Berberich can be reached at The Pediatric Medical Group in Berkeley at 510.849.1744. Carla
We used chanan for our first son. For our second we were sad to hear the passing of chanan. So we used Joel and jing piser. The only difference is they use the baby restrainer so it's a bit more odd. To be honest. But they are a husband wife team and super professional. In fact joel gives alot of background and history of the bris. Overall great experience and my sons netherregion healed very fast with the bell method!! Here is thier email!! piserfam@comcast.net Alexa
We used Stuart Zangwill and he was awesome. He is a pediatrician at Kaiser Oakland, dad of 2 and a really warm person. We know him well and I can't recommend him highly enough. He will also call for follow up shortly after to make sure all is ok. He did a great job. happy mom
Rabbi Chanan Feld z''l performed our first son's bris, and we were very comfortable with him. We probably attended a dozen or more brises he performed over the years. When he told us he was too ill to commit to our second son's bris, we were obviously saddened. After significant research, we used Rabbi Gil Leeds . He is the newish Chabad rabbi for UC Berkeley students. We were very satisfied. Rabbi Leeds was very personable and accomodating. He met our rabbi just minutes before the bris, and they managed to co-officiate a lovely ceremony. He made us and our nearly 200 guests (I only wish I were joking), many of whom had never attended a bris before, very comfortable. He is on the young side, but trained with Rabbi Feld and other skilled mohels. He uses the same techniques as they do. Our son's recovery was a little long, but our pediatrician assured us that the circumcision was done perfectly, and everything was totally normal. FYI, if we hadn't used Rabbi Feld, we would have used Dr. Stuart Zangwill, who is a pediatrician at Kaiser Oakland. I feel confident he would have done an excellent job, both with the surgical and ceremonial aspects. His technique follows the medical model, of course. We ended up choosing Rabbi Leeds because having an ''old school'' traditional bris was very important to us. Good luck to you and your family! Tamar
We used Rabbi Gil Leeds for our son's bris this past July. He is an orthodox rabbi but does orthodox and non-orthodox brises. I believe he was trained by Rabbi Feld. In terms of our experience, we were very pleased with the help he offered both before and after the bris (including a willingness to come by our house to check on our son if we needed him to). He was also flexible with respect to the ceremonies surrounding the circumcision and was willing to be only as involved as we wanted him to be. In terms of the medical aspects: we asked our pediatrician before using him and she had been pleased with the circumcisions he had done. His email address is giljleeds@hotmail.com. bg

Recommendations for a mohel

May 2010

My first son's brit milah was performed by the wonderful Rabbi Channan Feld. Does anyone know, or have experience with, the person who has taken over for Rabbi Feld since he passed last year? I am due with my second son in two weeks. Mary


I have 3 sons and Rabbi MOSHE TRAGER circumcized my youngest. He is the only fulltime mohel in the bay area since the unfortunate passing of Chanan Feld. I wish I had used him for my other two instead of going to a pediatric urologist in the hospital because he was kind, answered all my questions, had FAST hands, came to our home, and was completely accessible for ?s afterwards. It was just much less of traumatic experience than the hospital based circs we did. My son was back in my arms nursing in less than a minute altogether. We weren't interested in a ceremony (we are interfaith), it was just my hubby and I there and Rabbi Trager had no problem with that. We wanted him for his hands! Though, I have to say I have attended two traditional brissim he officiated at and the ceremonies were lovely...kind of makes me wish I had done the whole megilla. Anyway...he is an amazing Rabbi overall and would surely answer any of your questions. He has a website with all his info. home.comcast.net/~marctrager/site/ Ellen

Seeking very experienced mohel

Nov 2009

We are looking for a mohel, our main concern is to have someone with the maximum experience (and least complications...). We read all the recommendations on Rabbi Chanan Feld, but it seems he is no longer practicing due to health problems. We wish him all the best! Does anyone have experience with Gil Leeds? Any more comments about Dr. Stuart Avram Zangwill (the last and only one is from 2005)? Do you know how much experience have the rest of the mohels recommended on the BPN? Any bad experience with any of the local mohels that we should be aware of? Anxious Mom


We have two boys and used Dr. Ralph Berberich for our first and Drs. Jing and Joel Piser for our second. We were very happy with the Pisers and would use them again. They were warm, performed a moving, joyful ceremony, and seemed medically astute. The actual circumcision was very quick and our younger son didn't cry at all after the initial preparation. Both times the procedure went well and neither of our sons had any complications. Best of luck!
We used Dr. Debra Weiss-Ishai a little over a year ago. She was wonderful. I thought she was very helpful before hand with helping us prepare both for the ceremony and the procedure. She was great at the procedure (from what I can tell) -- our little guy didn't even cry and seemed very relaxed throughout. She led a wonderful ceremony. And she was available and very responsive afterward with questions about after-care and if he was healing properly. I highly recommend her. Here is her website: http://www.thebrisdoctor.com/ I am happy to answer any specfic questions. jaia
I want to recommend the mohel we used. Her name is Dr.Debrah Weiss-Isaiah She's also a pediatrician and can use topical anesthesia. Our son did not cry during his bris. He slept through most of it. Dr. Isaiah was wonderful. I think her website is www.thebrisdoctor.com marci
No recommendations, but wanted to let the community know that fabulous mohel Chanan Feld recently passed away. He will be missed. R.K.
I did not use him due to issues with timing, but I have heard he and his wife are great. He is a urologist and she is a plastic surgeon. Dr. Joel Piser Primary Office Berkeley Urological Associates, Inc 2999 Regent St, #612 Berkeley, CA 94705 Phone: (510) 848-1727 Fax: (510) 848-8224 If my memory serves me correctly, he is affiliated with Beth Abraham in Oakland.

I used Dr. Mark Rubenstein, who was a pediatrician for many years. Not sure if he is still practicing. (925) 932-6650 Email: markmd@earthlink.net And in trying to track down Dr. Rubenstein, I found this. http://www.beritmila.org/downloads/noamDirectory.pdf Good Luck


Sadly Rabbi Chanan Feld passed away a few weeks ago. He was very ill at the time of our second son's bris. After significant research, we used Rabbi Gil Leeds (we used Rabbi Feld for our first son's). He is the newish Chabad rabbi for UC Berkeley students. We were very satisfied.

Rabbi Leeds was very personable and accomodating. He met our rabbi just minutes before the bris, and they managed to co-officiate a lovely ceremony. He made us and our nearly 200 guests (I only wish I were joking), many of whom had never attended a bris before, very comfortable. He is on the young side, but trained with Rabbi Feld and other skilled mohels. He uses the same techniques as they do. Our son's recovery was a little long, but our pediatrician assured us that the circumcision was done perfectly, and everything was totally normal.

FYI, if we hadn't used Rabbi Feld, we would have used Dr. Stuart Zangwill, who is a pediatrician at Kaiser Oakland. I feel confident he would have done an excellent job, both with the surgical and ceremonial aspects. His technique follows the medical model, of course.

We ended up choosing Rabbi Leeds because having an ''old school'' traditional bris was very important to us. Good luck to you and your family!


2007 - 2008 Reviews


Mohel for interfaith couple

June 2007

can anyone recommend a mohel/moil for a jewish circumcision? someone who is ok with interfaith couples? thanks! ali


We used doctors Joel Piser and Jing Piser (they are husband and wife) and she is also a plastic surgeon and they were AMAZING!! Not only were they professional and made everything very comfortable for our families (my husband's family is not Jewish so this was a completely new experience for them) but they also donate the fee to their temple so we thought that was a wonderful gift to give to the community. Courtney
Debra Weiss-Ishai circumcised my son. She is a pediatrician as well as a mohel, and quite skilled. That we would circumcise our son was never in doubt, but it made it easier for us that she used a bit of local anesthetic to supplement the more traditional methods. Our little guy was fine throughout. She then followed up to make sure he healed properly and gave us specific instructions for care. She collaborated with us to not only perform a traditional religious ceremony for my son, but also an acknowledgment for his twin sister--not required by Jewish law, but greatly appreciated by me, her mother. Debra made the Brit Milah a warm, happy occasion, welcoming both our children into our lives. wendy
If you checked out the link that our moderator gave you on BPN website you'll see the mohels most used in Berkeley. Chanan Feld is the orthodox mohel in Berkeley and has done more circumcisions that all the rest put together. He's terrific. That's not to say that the others are not good also. The doctors Joel Piser and Jing Piser are medical doctors and trained as mohels. Mark Rubenstein is a retired MD and a mohel. There are others too. Each of them will do a bris for an interfaith couple. There are approaches that each has based on their philosophy. I'd be happy to explain them if you want to call me at work - Building Jewish Bridges: outreach to interfaith couples at 510-839-2900 x347 or dawn@jfed.org. If you just want to call the mohels and talk to them, here are some phone numbers:
Chanan Feld 510-524-0722
the Pisers 510-654-8004
Mark Rubenstein 925-932-6650
Also, you might like to have a copy of Resource: A Guide to Jewish Life in the Bay Area. You can get a copy from your local Federation or from Jewish Community Information and Referral in SF by calling 415-777-4545. Dawn Kepler

2005 - 2006 Reviews


Seeking a mohel for April bris

March 2006

My wife and I are expecting our first child in April. If it's a boy, we will have a bris and need a mohel. The two recurrent names in BPN recommendations are Chanan Feld and Mark Rubenstein. I'd be happy to have any recommendations for other mohels along with any comments about parents' recent experiences with Feld and Rubenstein. Thanks, in advance, for your advice. Ben


I would like to recommend my sister, Dr. Debra Weiss-Ishai. As a pediatrician, she is meticulous when is comes to surgical procedures. As a moyel, she feels deeply about the beauty of the ritual. As a mother, she is very understanding of the parents' emotions. Here is her web site. http://www.thebrisdoctor.com/ BTW - last week (3/3/06) she appeared on the cover of the J. (the Jewish News Weekly www.jewishsf.com/). Helena, proud sister
Chanan Feld did our son's bris last July, and he did a fabulous job, according to our pediatrician - who also had Chanan do her son's bris - and several pediatrician friends. He was very quick and our boy barely cried at all. Also, he did a great job of explaining to us (the parents) exactly what he was going to do, and how our son's penis was going to look afterward, and how to care for it while it healed. He also called after a few days to check up on the healing. I couldn't have asked for a better experience for us or our son, and recommend Chanan very, very highly. a Jewish mom
We had a great experience with Chanan Feld in fall 2004. As a not-that-observant family (practicing but reform, and I converted), we were a little nervous about having such a traditional mohel, but he worked very well in conjunction with our own rabbis to give us a wonderful bris at home.

If you are actively uncomfortable with traditional Jewish practice, he might not be the person for you -- he came with his own two witnesses to fulfill all the Orthodox requirements (I guess we're not Jewish enough to be witnesses? I can't remember...), but honestly that didn't bother me. And he was willing to bend the rules for us as needed -- we didn't have the bris on the eighth day because one set of grandparents couldn't get there in time. Most importantly in my book, he was extremely skilled -- there seemed to be no pain -- and he was kind and flexible. And, should our son ever decide to become an Orthodox Jew, we have the certificate to show he's got the creds :).

Oh -- and he does a *ton* of them -- he did two other babies on the same day he did ours, and he said that's typical.

Good luck with your mohel decision. Chanan fan


We used Joel and Jing Piser for our son's bris. They did a great job--they are a husband and wife team and both medical doctors. I believe Joel is a pediatric urologist and Jing is a plastic surgeon--great combination of experience for performing the actual procedure! Joel is also trained in the ritual part of the bris and helped create a very down to earth, personable ceremony with excellent explanations for those unfamiliar with the ritual. My son appeared comfortable for most of the ceremony, and only cried for a couple seconds (they used wine before the ceremony). I would definitely use them again if we have another boy. They made everyone feel very comfortable, and they don't accept payment themselves--it is donated to their congregation.

Dr. Debra Weiss-Ishai as a mohel

December 2005

I am having my first son in a couple of months and will be having a bris for him. An acquaintance of mine said she recently attended a bris done by Debra Weiss-Ishai who is a mohel and pediatrician in this area. She said that this mohel did an amazing job with the whole ceremony and it was the best bris she has ever attended. I hadn't heard of her and was just wondering if anyone else has any experience with her. Thanks! Michelle


I attended the bris of a friend of mine who used Dr. Weiss-Ishai as the mohel. I thought she was great! I have only been to one other bris before and she, by far, was much better. During the ceremony she explained all the background and history behind the traditions. My friend had different family members and friends participate in readings/poems which made it much more intimate and meaningful. Best of all (I think!), the baby slept through the whole thing, even the procedure! (She numbs up the area). My girlfriend said her pediatrician informed her that the results were great! Hope that helps! Carrie
My friend said this mohel has a website. Here is the address if you need more info. http://www.TheBrisDoctor.com
Carrie

Need a mohel who can explain bris to non-Jewish family & friends

June 2005

We're looking for recommendations for a mohel, and there don't appear to be very recent ones on the website. (And any negative experiences you've had with a local mohel would be good info, too!) We're especially looking for someone who can explain what's going on to our friends who will be at the bris but who aren't familiar with the customs. We'll also be having a simchat bat (baby-naming for a girl) on the same day - we're expecting boy/girl twins - so we'd also be interested in someone who can lead both ceremonies, although this part isn't as crucial. Thanks! Lisa


We had a great Mohel for our son and we HIGHLY recommend him. He also was the Mohel for my sister's son and several other Bris's I've been at. He's VERY experienced and does it quick! I've never seen anyone do it that quick and so well. We had no problems afterwards. He's also funny and very good at explaning things to a large group. His name is Hanan Feld - 510-524-0722. We are not very religious (and my husband is not technically Jewish) and Hanan did a great job of explaining what was to happen to a non-experienced group. Hanan does the procedure the ''non-medical'' way and it's much quicker and it looks a lot less painful. He does not tie the baby down or anything. I have been to a bris where the mohel was a doctor and a mohel and the mohel did the bris the ''medical way''. Gosh, it looked very painful and the procedure took a long time. With Hanan's method, it's quick and that seems great for the baby and the parents! He uses a special devise to do it and he does several of these procedures every week - so he's very experienced and I think that makes a big (and positive) difference in his outlook and method. best of luck. Esther Esther
Chanen Feld--technically, the best. He is an orthodox mohel, so you have to factor in whether or not you want a very traditional person doing the bris. He seems to be open about including ideas of the parents, however. Anon, please
Everyone uses Rabbi Chanan Feld, a wonderful mohel. He is professional, experienced, warm, open, and uses his wonderful sense of humor to help everyone feel at ease and understand what is going on. I have attended many brit milah that he has performed including a brit he preformed for twin boys! His phone # is 510-524-0722.

As for ideas for a simchat bat, you may want to take the lead here. There is a great website I would recommend for some programming ideas and rituals: http://www.itim.org.il/bin/en.jsp? enPage=HomePage_E Also, my husband & I recently made a simchat bat for our daughter and I'd be glad to share any ideas. Wishing you continued wonderment on this amazing journey, fodi


Rabbi Chanan Feld performed the bris for each of my two boys, now ages 18 mos. and 3-1/2. Both times, he talked everyone through the short service and explained what was going on. (The actual circs were very quick.) He took very good care of both boys and I'm told that he did an excellent job on each of them. Rabbi Feld showed us very carefully how to manage the healing process. And he followed up both times by checking on the boys during the week after the bris. I highly recommend him to anyone looking for a mohel. Jennifer F.
You will get this rec. again and again, but for good reason. Chanan Feld is the man for you. Experienced, talented, knowledgable, and able to diffuse what's usually a tense situation with good humor. He did my son's bris five years ago - it was a warm and untraumatic experience. My son had healed perfectly within six days, (Feld comes and checks up on the baby at least twice)and we've never had a problem. I'd use him again in a heartbeat. I'm sorry I don't have his card handy - but Google him and you'll come up with it. Mazel Tov! Julie T.
Chanan Feld (I hope I am spelling his name correctly) was mohel for our son nine years ago. He was excellent at explaining everything and making everything run smoothly. Even though we were Conservative, and not Orthodox, he made us feel very comfortable. klevenson
Chanan Feld is a great mohel(and very popular), he's orthodox but does not push his views. I cannot recommend him highly enough. His number is (510) 524- 0722
i'm sure you will hear this from lots of folks (and it's on the website too), but chanan feld is really a great mohel. a complete expert technically and a very genuine and kind person. you can ask him what he does as far as explanation (i don't remember-- too much else happening that day!!) and always supplement it with whatever you would like (explained by whoever you would like in whatever way you like) and he will be very open to that-- but you can't get just anyone to perform the circumcision, so i would recommend him! i was at a simchat bat that sara shendelman (from chochmat ha lev-- which is in the phone book) led that was really lovely and she did a wonderful job of explaining things.
Mazel Tov!I was very happy with Drs Jing and Joel Piser with the bris of my twin boys in 2001 and other friends have used them too. It worked out well since we have a mixed chinese/jewish marriage. We had the honor of being the first boy/boy twins they did. They are very flexible with the specifics of the ceremony and can offer advice. They were actually our back-up Mohel's, our first choice was called to active duty. I think the Piser's worked out for the better! -Sue
Dr. Stuart Zangwill, a Kaiser pediatrician with extensive experience in circumcisions, is a newly certified mohel based in Oakland. We attended a brit milah and simchat bat at which he officiated with my husband, Rabbi Mark Bloom of Temple Beth Abraham. Dr. Zangwill did the brit milah while Rabbi Bloom did the simchat bat. Dr. Zangwill is extremely friendly and helpful, explains the meaning of the brit milah as a sign of the covenant with God, and of course is proficient in the surgical piece as well. I'd be happy to provide more information and the names of some of the families he has worked with previously. Feel free to contact me. Karen

2004 & Earlier


Experience with local mohels?

March 2004

I am 36 weeks pregnant and opted to not find out the sex of our baby (anxiously awaiting the surprise); however if it ends up being a boy my husband and I, both being conversative Jews, would like to have a bris. I have been doing a little bit of research on Mohels in this area (looked at the Resource and the Parent's Newtwork website) and I am wondering if anyone has had any recent experiences with Mohels in this area? The last postings on the website were from last year. There were lots of good comments about Rabbi Chanan Feld, although I am wondering if anyone could share their recent experience with a Mohel in the Bay Area. Dana


I have not used him as a mohel, but I can highly recommend Joel Piser, M.D. as a wonderful human being, and my husband, also an M.D., regards him very highly as a fellow physician. Joel is a urologist at Alta Bates, and is also a mohel, and I believe he works as a team with his wife, Jing, also a physician. They are both extremely kind, friendly, easy-going people, who have a young son of their own. Joel's office number is 848-1727. Mazel Tov! Heidi
Channan Feld did a bris for each of my two sons (ages 4 months and 2 years). He did an excellent job on both boys. He spent a lot of time before and after to explain the healing & treatment process, and he was always available for questions. Both times, he worked quickly during the bris. Of lessor importance, but still worth noting, is that he did a great job at the bris explaining to our family and friends the significance of the traditions. I strongly recommend him without hesitation! Mama to 2 Beautiful Boys
No one better than Chanan Feld, and my son has the beautiful ''after-product'' to prove it. My pediatrician as well as a close urologist friend were very impressed with Feld's work. As well, Feld was diligent about the post-procedure care Happy Customer

Planning a bris but not affiliated with a temple

March 2003

I am planning a bris and I'm looking for recommendations for a mohel. I am not currently affiliated with any of the temples so I am reaching out to the list before contacting any of the them directly. I have looked at the listings on the Web site but most date back to 1999. Thanks.


Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your son! I highly recommend Chanan Feld (he's located in Berkeley, his name's in the phone book). He's orthodox but does not push his own agenda at all. He doesn't use pain killers but is open to it if that's what you want. He was warm and friendly and his fee was not outrageous. He will travel quite far if needed. He's very well-known and well-liked. He's also very experienced. My son's pediatrician said Chanan did a great job. Amanda
Mazel Tov on your soon to be arrival. We used Dr. Mark Rubenstein. He was a peditrian for many years and he is a trained reformed mohel. Our first son was born 2 years ago and Mark and his wife came to our home and performed a beatiful service as well as the circumcision. At that time we were not involved with a synagogue. I highly recommend him. He was gentle and kind and very reassuring. He explained everything to us and allowed us to be as involved as we wished. He even provided us with some sample readings if we wanted to use them for the ceremony. We are expecting another boy and one of the first people we contacted was Mark to see if he would be available again. Lucky for us he will be. My in-laws are not Jewish (my husband converted before we were married) and they live in PA. Mark suggested that they could participate with us even though they weren't here in our home by telephone. We set up our speaker phone in the living room and fedexed the service to them so they could participate. It was wonderful and it was Marks suggestion. I think you can tell we really liked him very much. You can contact him at markmd@earthink.com. Visit http://www.mohel.yourmd.com/ypol/user/userMain.asp?siteid=205969 for more information on Mark or if you would like to do more research try: http://rj.org/beritmila/. Good Luck! Please let me know if I can be of further assistance. Adina
I highly recommend Dr. Mark Rubenstein. He is a pediatrician turned mohel. He does a fantastic job (both literally and with the service). He helps you (and your family) create a service that is meaningful to you.
Mark M. Rubenstein, MD
Tel: 925-932-6650; Fax: 925-937-6650
E-mail: markmd AT attglobal.net
Please tell him that I sent you his way. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Melissa
Ralph Berberich MD was the mohel we used. He did an excellent job on the circumcision--fast, healed well, little crying one done. Our Rabbi did the ceremony however, so I couldn't say what he would have been like for that. anon
Chanan Feld is wonderful. He performed the bris for my son in January '01, and I have attended three others where he served as mohel. He is very warm and personable, and takes wonderful care of babies and parents. My copy of Resource is packed away, or I would give you his number- I bet if you call Parent's Place in SF they will be able to give it to you. Or, you can probably find a copy of Resource, which is the local phone directory for Jewish services and businesses, at the Berkeley JCC. marys

This an addendum to my earlier message. Found Chanan Feld's number. It is (510) 524- 0722. His ad says ''Technical Expertise, Spiritual Fulfillment''. His e-mail is feld AT pacbell.net. Good luck, and again, we felt very well-taken care of with Chanan. mary


Chanan Feld did a great job with our son's Bris in 2000. We were also unaffiliated at the time, and are an interfaith family. He made everyone feel comfortable, and allowed us to add anything into the ceremony that we wanted. He used the traditional (non anesthesia) method, but it was very quick and there was very minimal crying. He also came back after a period of days (I can't remember how long) to check and make sure everything was healing properly. I would definitely recommend him! Tammy
I think the most used mohel in the bay area has to be Chanan Feld. Here's what his listing says, ''Technical expertise. Spiritual fulfillment. For all Jews.'' He circumcised my son and I've seen him do other circs. He's darn good. He's orthodox. If that's a problem for you, there are a number of other mohels and doctor/mohels listed in Resource: A Guide to Jewish Life in the Bay Area. Call for lots of names: Jewish Info & Referral (877) 777-5247. Feel free to contact me. And Mozel Tov! dawn
Chanan Feld seems to be a very good (and very busy!) mohel. He did a bris for my sister's son and I thought he did it very well. He is through Chabad (call them for his number or look in the phone book), but seemed to be very comfortable in a non-Orthrodox crowd, explained stuff without being condescending, had a lovely sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye, had wine given to the baby liberally beforehand that seemed to eliminate a great deal of the pain, and did a quick and professional job. kgerwein

Pediatrician Ralph Berberic as a mohel

May 2002

We are expecting in July and are looking both for a moyel and a pediatrician.... regarding Dr. Berberich: I'd like to hear people's opinions of him as a moyel.... (See Ralph Berberich, Pediatric Medical Group for this discussion.


Drs. Jing and Joel Piser conducting a bris

2001

Does anyone have any experience with Drs. Jing or Joel Piser conducting a bris ceremony? We're looking for a good mohel who is willing to do a bris for an non-Jewish mother/Jewish father, and appreciate any recommendations. Thanks,


This couple conducted the Bris for our son in the same circumstances (I am not Jewish, but my husband is.) They were wonderful -- warm,sensitive, and expert at what they do. Since one is a plastic surgeon and the other a urologist, my husband says they have "form and function" covered! I would strongly recommend them. Kathy
We used them for our son's bris (July 1999), having seen them "in action" at the bris of the son of friends the previous year. Our friends who used them are not both Jewish and this team made everyone feel very comfortable. They are wonderful both in terms of their medical/technical expertise and also in the way that they conduct the ceremony. The procedure itself is very fast -- only a few seconds -- and our baby hardly cried at all. The ceremony was very inclusive, which was nice for our non-Jewish friends who attended, and very emotional -- it was not only family members who were moved to tears! Miriam
Almost 4 years ago exactly we had the Dr. Pisers do my son's bris. They did a wonderful job, both in allaying my fears and educating our family/friends who attended the bris. It was very comfortable working with them, although we had never met them before the ceremony. If it matters, my son was adopted and was born to a Catholic birthmother. I am Jewish and my husband is not. They had no problems with any of this. Oh, and my son's penis recovered beautifully, although it is a little small..... don't think I can blame them for this though.
Dr. Piser is an absolutely top notch surgeon and Mohel. In addition to performing circumcision for both our sons, he did kidney surgery on our older son. All is quite well 12 years later and we still see him for check ups. He has a great sense of humor, is compassionate, wonderful with babies and children and brilliant. Nuckypuff
More reviews of experiences with Piser/Jing including a circumcision: click here
May I suggest another Mohel? Chanan Feld is the best around. Ask anyone. He did my son's bris, and I'm a convert (conservative, not Orthodox, which wasn't a problem for him. And my husband's not even Jewish!) He gives a great informative talk on the mitzvah of brit millah before the ceremony, and gently explains what's going to happen to the mother and father in another room. The ceremony itself is quick (our son didn't even cry, and was immediately brought in to me to nurse afterwards.) He shows you how to care for the circumcision and returns to your home to check your baby within the week. My son was competely healed in six days. I've attended two other bris's with Chanan as mohel and both were equally impressive. He's the guy to do your bris. Mazel Tov in advance. Julie
I would like to second the recommendation given for Chanan Feld. This was the first ritual circumcision done in my family in over 70 years- all the rest were hospital circs- so no one knew what we were doing but Chanan! He was gentle, informative, and extraordinarily experienced. He NEVER made us feel uncomfortable in any way for not knowing all the "steps." He explained everything before, during, and after! Jonah healed up very quickly and expressed no discomfort EVER around the wound as it was healing. I cried more than he did during the actual procedure. He nursed and fell asleep afterwards. Chanan came by a week later to our house to check on Jonah's healing, which was very nice. Chanan came very warmly recommended to us by people of all sorts of families- Jewish, half-Jewish, whatever! His name was mentioned by every single person we asked! We were very happy with him. Mel

Seeking mohel who is not orthodox, willing to use anesthetic

May 2000

Looking for an EXCELLENT Mohel to perform circumcision at a bris. We are really looking for a Mohel who is willing to use anesthetic and is not orthodox. Reformed preferred but conservative would be OK. Laura


You can find a listing of mohel's for the bay area in the resource guide: http://www.jewishsf.com/resource/chap3.html#TOCRef4. I've talked to almost all the mohel's listed there and am going to give you more information than you asked for. First, if you want an "EXCELLENT Moel" (this is the yiddish/ashkenazic pronunciation, BTW) then you should reconsider using someone who is orthodox and go with Chanan Feld. He did both my boys and I've been to a good number of other brises by him and he is fantastic. He is skilled, very quick, and I'm going to be very "new age" here, he has a spiritual presence that calms the baby and the parents. If you have a specific issue about the orthodoxy, contact him anyway and be straightforward; for example, if the issue is that the mother is not Jewish he may still do it. I know he did our friends' son where the mom had a non-O conversion. I also _heard_ that he did a circumcision (not a bris!) for a couple that was born-again Christian after speaking to them for a long time. I'm more in line with the Renewal camp and added a bunch of stuff to our ceremony -- such as prayers using feminized Hebrew, singing a pro-gay lullabye, making sure that I, as the mother, appointed him yada yada yada--- and he said, "just tell me when I come in :-)".

Another mohel I considered using is a Reform guy by the name of Fred Kogen. Http://www.eBris.com or Http://www.BrisMila.com He does a traditional ceremony and uses traditional methods. I know one couple who used him and liked him. He is more expensive because he flies in from LA and you'd have to ask him whether he does a follow-up (Chanan came to our house two days after the bris in each case just to make sure things were OK).

I did not like any of the other Reform mohels I spoke to and here's why. The Reform movement has a program whereby any doctor who already knows how to perform a medical circumcision can learn a few prayers and become a mohel. This means that most of them use either the Gomco or Plastibell clamps which are a longer, more intricate procedure. From what I've been told, these result in a more "surgical", better looking, cut but they take significantly longer. The "traditional" method, using a mogen clamp, takes about a minute whereas these others take 5-10 mins. I think that both O and Conservative disqualify these clamps because they cause unnecessary discomfort for the baby by dragging things out. All but one of the R mohels I spoke to on the phone said they would not use anasthetic (penile nerve block) when doing it in the home because of risk of anaphylactic shock (they would use it in a hospital setting). This may have changed in the past few years so I suggest you ask. They said they perform most of the actual circumcision before the ceremony thus splittin it into two parts. When I asked if they would do it all at once one answer I got was, "No, that would be too upsetting for the non-Jews in the room." Ah-hem!!! That being said, one of my friends used an R mohel who did use the anasthetic in her home and her baby did just fine. If I remember his name I will email it to you.

One important thing to consider is that there are some mohels who insist on using the "circumstraint" which, IMHO, is a horrible device to strap down the child that makes the whole thing a lot more traumatic and is completely unnecessary. Have a parent or relative hold the baby on a pillow on their lap- it makes a world of difference for the child and make sure this is OK with the mohel you hire.

Now onto the anasthetic issue. We used EMLA cream for our older son's bris and chose not to use an anasthetic for our younger son. Both our sons did very well. They both cried for a matter of seconds and were easily consoled in my arms. My only regret is that I wasn't comfortable nursing my older son in public but I did nurse my youger son immediately after the procedure as part of the ceremony.

Here's how we made these decisions. If you're going to use one of the longer procedures then it probably makes sense to use the penile nerve block. This knocks out all feeling but it involves 2-3 shots which themselves take time and cause pain. There are reactions and risks which are minor but should be considered. Since we decided to use a mohel who used the mogen clamp and did a quicker procedure, we weighed the time and pain of the shots against the time and pain of the actual circumcision and decided against it.

The EMLA cream is a topical that needs to be applied an hour before and properly occluded. Studies showed a reduction of pain when used for circumcision but not a total elimination and these studies were only conducted on the Gomco clamp ( I don't know if there is any new information out there). For that reason we chose to use it for our older son. Chanan left the decision up to us but told us he didn't like it. He feels very strongly that if a good anasthetic option is available he ought to use it (after all, God put Adam to sleep before performing surgery on a particular rib :-) but he doesn't feel the EMLA cream is it. It's not recommended for children under 1 year and it causes a lot of swelling which makes his knowing where to cut a little harder. (He said that he sometimes marks the penis before applying it if he thinks this may be a problem). There were a couple of other potential problems with it that I don't remember. Between our two children, I attended a few other brises that he performed where anasthetic wasn't used (parent's discussed it with him and made the choice). My subjective perception of how the babies reacted was that it didn't make much of a difference. I also compared what the removed foreskin looked like afterwards (he gives it to the parents for burial if they want) and there is no question that our son's skin had been very swollen (the baby I was comparing to was 2 lbs more at birth so by comparison his should have been bigger). This is why I decided to trust Chanan's opinion the second time around. He also had had much more experience with the EMLA cream that he felt bore out his opinion. There was no perceptible difference in my mind between my two sons' reactions. I really feel, and this is all MHO coming out of my own personal experience, that there are other factors which are much more important in making the bris less traumatic-- things such as the emotional state of the parents, the atmosphere in the room, and how quickly the baby is back in his mother's arms. As I said, I gave you a lot more info than you asked for. I hope some of this helps you in formulating questions to ask prospective mohels. Email me privately if I can help any further. Sophie


I am responding to your inquiry on UCParents for a mohel...we are a reform household (with a non-Jewish dad)...and, we had and loved Chanan Feld -- the Orthodox Mohel who does not (but, can) use local anesthesia...HE WAS GREAT!!!! Our Rabbi, Rabbi Steve Chester of Temple Sinai, was there (at our home) with Chanan to "be there", he really deferred to Chanan and Chanan was warm, efficient (my baby's pediatrician also recommended Chanan and when he saw the work, he commented that it was perfect). Our son barely cried it is so difficult no matter what decision you make!) -- so, I am forever grateful to Chanan for making our son's entry into the Jewish world so peaceful and spiritually right...not to mention healthy (my family had a HORRIBLE story with a bris of a cousin 54 years ago, and this was a lot of healing for us, to have it go SO well.) -- Good luck, and feel free to ask me any other questions...B'shalom, Laurie

More Advice

2001

RE: conducting a bris
I've been seeing Dr. Piser myself recently (although not for a bris!) and have been really impressed by how well-organized and attentive both he and his office staff are. (His staff and he himself actually apologized to me for keeping me waiting about 1/2 an hour one day.) He's got a somewhat quirky sense of humor that is probably necessary in his line of work but in terms of expertise and skill he seems top notch. For what its worth, I saw he was nominated by some magazine as one of the area's top urologists.


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