Jews in Smolensk, Russia, made history this past Shavuot with a collection of ritual circumcisions surrounding that of eight-day-old Dovid Mondshine, son of Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Levi and Chana Mondshine.

Rabbi Dr. Yeshaya Shafit, a trained surgeon and Russian-born mohel who made headlines for returning to his native country after immigrating to Israel in 1992, came in for the occasion, inspiring a total of five men to join the newborn in undergoing the procedure.

Two of the adult circumcisions took place the day before the holiday, which celebrated the giving of the Torah 3,321 years ago, while two took place the morning after. The other man chose to accompany Shafit back to Moscow.


Rabbi Dr. Yeshaya Shafit, a trained surgeon and mohel, came from Moscow to perform the circumcision of eight-day-old Dovid Mondshine, son of Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Levi and Chana Mondshine.


Five Jewish men expressed their desire to undergo the procedure, which they followed with a festive meal at the Mondshines’ home.


Rabbi Levi Mondshine, second from left, the city’s chief rabbi, presided over the circumcisions, which community members hailed as historic for not only occurring around the holiday of Shavuot, but for the sheer rarity of the ritual during Soviet days.


Two of the men were circumcised the day before Shavuot, while two others were circumcised the morning after the holiday. One man decided to accompany Shafit back to Moscow for the ritual.


Born and raised in Smolensk, the men had never before had the opportunity to be circumcised.