First phone calls:

  1. Ask your rabbi to suggest a mohel, ritual circumciser. The best person for this procedure is a mohel who is meticulous in his Jewish observance and is an expert in performing ritual circumcisions.
  2. Discuss with the mohel any concerns you may have. Let him know what types of people will attend, so he can best prepare.
  3. Wait until the mohel evaluates the health of the infant and gives the go-ahead before informing family and friends about the time of the circumcision ceremony, as it may need to be pushed off.
  4. You may want to inform the honorees (see below) as soon as possible, to enable them to leave their plans open for the time that the circumcision will take place.
  5. If you will have the meal catered, call the caterer. They will let you know the latest you can inform them of the time of the ceremony.

Things you should prepare:

  1. A nice outfit for the baby. In some communities you may find someone who owns a beautiful outfit and lends it out for circumcisions.
  2. A pillow, with a clean pillowcase, for the infant to lie on. There may be someone in your community who owns a decoratively embroidered pillow that you can borrow for the occasion.
  3. Some mohels may require a larger pillow to be placed on the lap of the sandek, the one who holds the child during the circumcision.
  4. A steady chair for the sandek.
  5. Some ritual circumcisers may want a step stool to place under the feet of the one who will hold the baby during the circumcision.
  6. A separate chair designated for Elijah the Prophet, if it is your custom to have one.
  7. Candles to illuminate the room.
  8. A bottle of kosher wine.
  9. A goblet for the wine.
  10. A prayerbook or copy of the pages of the text of the circumcision ceremony.
  11. Prayer shawls for some of those being honored.
  12. For those that have the custom to smell a myrtle or spices, have those items available.
  13. Ask the mohel how many diapers he will need.

People to designate:

  1. The escorts, kvatters, usually a married couple (more details).
  2. The one who will place the baby on Elijah’s chair.
  3. The one who lifts the infant from Elijah’s chair and hands him to the father.
  4. The sandek, the one who holds the baby during the circumcision (more details).
  5. The one who lifts the child from the sandek.
  6. The standing sandek, who holds the child during the blessings.
  7. The one who will recite the blessings.
  8. The one who will read the blessing of the naming of the child.
  9. The one who will lead the grace after the meal.
  10. The ones who will read the six stanzas beginning “May the merciful one…”

Note: You should have an organized list of those you would like to honor. It is helpful to have a backup list, just in case one of the honorees is unable to attend at the last minute. If you would like, include in the list the titles of the honorees. Because this is a busy time for the couple, it is a good idea to give this list to a relative or friend who can take responsibility for announcing and finding the honorees on your behalf.

Don’t know who to honor? Many of these honors are not mandatory. Review the list with your mohel or rabbi, to eliminate some of them.

Things to decide:

  1. The child’s name.

Things to know:

  1. The mother’s given Jewish name.
  2. The mother’s mother’s given Jewish name.
  3. The father’s given Jewish name.
  4. It is best for the father to know how to say the blessings before the ceremony begins (see The Circumcision Procedure and Blessings).