Adam Douglas, 20, was at his brother Kurtiss’ house in Reno, Nev., on a Saturday morning when the brother came jogging back from synagogue to get him for prayer services.

“He explained it on the way there,” related Douglas, saying how they needed an extra person to make the 10 necessary for certain public prayers and the morning Torah reading. “Something clicked, so I kept coming back every week. Then I got a [copy of the Five Books of Moses] and started studying on my own.”

Douglas, who lives in Carson City, about half an hour away, says his interest in Jewish study grew, and eventually took him to Yeshiva Torah Ohr, a Chabad-Lubavitch run institution in South Florida, where he has been since the end of June. “I just felt like it was the right thing to do.”

As he delved deeper into his studies, he came across something that concerned him greatly.

“You’re supposed to be circumcised, or you’re excluded,” he said, explaining the biblical commandment for a father to circumcise his son at the eighth day of life. “It was making me very upset.”

A week later, with the help of a non-profit called Brit Yosef Yitzchak, he had a ritual circumcision. It was a decision that took two or three days to make, he said, but once it was made, there was no question it was going to happen.

So on a recent Sunday, he met with a rabbi and a surgeon, and surrounded by other rabbis, his teachers and friends, had his bris, as the procedure is known in Hebrew and Yiddish. Offered the chance to pick a new name, he “just stuck with my name.”

Afterwards, they went and picked up bagels and lox, and by the afternoon services, Douglas was back at synagogue.

Rabbi Mendel Cunin of the Chabad of Northern Nevada and Lake Tahoe said he wasn’t surprised to get a call saying Douglas had made the decision to be circumcised.

Students and teaches at Yeshiva Torah Ohr celebrate Adam Douglas' circumcision.
Students and teaches at Yeshiva Torah Ohr celebrate Adam Douglas' circumcision.

“I was happy to hear it,” he said, recalling Douglas’s intelligence and great interest in learning more about his religion and discovering his heritage. “It’s just a symbol of his dedication on the path of return.”

For Rabbi Immanuel Storfer, director of Yeshiva Torah Ohr in North Miami Beach, Douglas’s decision is a powerful one.

“To find people who merit making that decision the same way the first Jew, Abraham, did is quite an amazing thing and commitment,” he said. “Every child who is eight days old never has that choice.”

He explained how each commandment is a chance to connect with G‑d in a different way, and how circumcision specifically reflects that connection.

“It shows that someone wanted to be attached and connected,” said Storfer.

Asked about his decision, Douglas said he felt it was important to do.

“G‑d says it’s part of the covenant,” he said. “It’s harder than you want it to be, but easier than you think.”