I have a vision of what the ideal bris should be. The ceremony should have beauty, meaning and should leave everyone present with the sense they had been a part of something special. To attain this goal, it is my belief is that the ceremony should be as medically safe and non-traumatic to the baby as possible, spiritually uplifting and educationally enlightening. It should be inclusive of family members and friends; both Jews and non-Jews, men and women. Whoever is important to my families is important to me.
The bris begins with candle lighting, then continues with poetry or other special readings and a complete explanation of each aspect of the ceremony. By the end, everyone present will be knowledgeable about the ritual.
The entire service lasts 15 to 20 minutes, the circumcision however occurs near the end. The procedure takes about 60 seconds and no one is required to watch except, of course...the mohel! There is very little blood and crying, the baby is comforted in the arms of a loved one then handed immediately back to his parents for the conclusion of the ceremony. A restraining board is usually not necessary to hold the baby. To make the baby as comfortable as possible, I also favor the use of a topical anesthetic, sweet kosher wine or concord grape juice, infant Tylenol, a little pain reliever mixed with the antibiotic dressing and a lot of TLC (tender loving care).
I encourage the introduction of elements which lend beauty and uniqueness to each ceremony. The ceremonial table should be covered with a lovely tablecloth, perhaps even the wedding chuppah. Flower petals scattered about the edge of the table and a simple short flower arrangement lend additional elegance. Any important family kiddush cups should be included along with heirloom items such as candle sticks or special talit. A few family photos in addition to mementos from the person whom the baby is named is another great idea. Finally, a letter to the baby composed by the parents and grandparents brings lasting thoughts to an otherwise short lived but memorable occasion. These passages can be read to the baby at other significant moments in his life such as his Bar Mitzvah, wedding or bris of his own son.
A properly conducted bris can be one of the most unforgettable moments of one's life and should always be a powerful and wonderful experience. It should reconnect us to our heritage as Jews and you as a family to those beloved departed, all of whom had a bris upon their eighth day of life.