While pregnant with my first son, I thought often of the day of his ritual circumcision, the brit milah. I dreamt of the loved ones and family who would attend. I planned to invite old friends, and looked forward to the reunions we would have. My husband and I intended to hold the circumcision at our local synagogue, so everyone in our community could be present.

At the circumcision we declare that this Jewish child will always be connected to G‑d. The Hebrew word brit also means “bond.” The circumcision is a constant, physical sign that within this Jewish boy is an actual part of his Creator.

The circumcision is performed purely out of love, drawing the child into the ancient but constantly renewed pact between G‑d and the Jewish people. It is a gift to our child which relays, “You are already important here; you have a purpose in this world.”

Despite our wonderful plan to celebrate with all our family and friends, as often happens, what unfolded was very different than my fantasies.

My son was born exactly eight days before the holiday of Passover. The circumcision would take place on a day when none of my friends or relatives would be able to drive to participate in the event.

As this new reality set in, we realized that it would be unrealistic for us to stay in our own neighborhood to perform the circumcision there. We had no family in the area, and no way to accommodate them nearby. We decided to stay with my sister-in-law for Passover, and hold the event in their synagogue, where I did not know a soul. We knew that the circumcision would take place the morning after the Passover Seder, where families spend many late hours discussing and feasting in commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt. We thought that few other than family would join our joyous event.

Surprisingly, this breach from my original imagery of the circumcision proved to be the most beautiful aspect for me. Observing tens of prayer shawl–enveloped men crowding around my tiny baby was astounding. Here they were, physically exhausted after a late Passover Seder, yet exuding excited energy because a new child had been born into their nation. They gathered around my husband and the baby. They sang with true passion, not because any of them knew us personally, but because they felt the beauty of the moment—a new Jew with his own unique purpose was being brought into the covenant that binds us all together.

This eight-day-old child had done absolutely nothing yet that would deem him important in the eyes of the Western world. He had accomplished no intellectual achievement or contributed anything new. In an achievement-oriented world, my child was nothing but a cute 6.5-pound mass. But in a world that views a new baby as the very future of our nation, the key to our continuance, my child was a star.