Though you don't need to be Jewish to enjoy chicken soup, and you don't need to be religious to attend synagogue, the more observant people are, the greater their likelihood of keeping Shabbat and kosher. There are however two mitzvot that Jews, almost without exception, observe and cherish: Passover and brit milah (circumcision).

Our synagogues might be full every Yom Kippur, but all the seats in our synagogues would seat only 20% of the Jewish population. Chanukah and Purim are fun for all the family, and attendance at their celebrations may be growing, but they don't compare in popularity to the masses that share seders together. Assimilated Jews, intermarried Jews, you-name-it type of Jews, all circumcise their sons. Why? What do these two commandments have that the others don't?

There are however two mitzvot that Jews, almost without exception, observe and cherish: Passover and britThe festival of Passover recalls our liberation from slavery to freedom, a conceptual leap from one state of existence to a higher calling. So too brit entails an act of transformation, as by this symbolic act we effect a partnership between ourselves and G‑d, connecting our body and soul to the unlimited Being of G‑d.

At our birth as a nation, still a ragtag bunch of slaves, G‑d commanded us to find a live sheep, bring it home and prepare to slaughter and eat it.

To say this was a risk is putting it mildly. The Egyptians worshipped sheep. To publicly announce our intention to treat their deity in such a manner was to invite retribution and persecution. It was only our extraordinary faith in our Creator and total dedication to His cause that helped us find the courage to fulfill this mitzvah.

No less courageous are the parents of every child who manage to find the strength and will to hand their precious newborn child over to be circumcised. As a mohel (ritual circumciser) it never ceases to amaze me that parents so deeply in love with their new bundle of joy can smother their mothering instincts for a higher cause.

Only these two acts, Passover and brit, conceived in a cauldron of such self-sacrifice and emotion, have managed to sear a permanent brand into our historical psyche. The generations of ancestors who have preceded us in their individual and collective acts of bravery, keeping up the covenant with our G‑d throughout all times and under all conditions, have passed their torch to us.

As custodians of their spirit, we too pledge our faith and commitment to transmitting this covenant and connection to our children.