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Conversion to Judaism: Hatafat Dam Brit

30 Jan 2023 9:30 AM | Franklin Jester (Administrator)

by Kevin Masterson

When I made the decision to convert to Judaism, I thought "Good. I already have one thing checked off my to do list. I am circumcised". I began the process during the pandemic, and therefore I wasn't in contact with other men further along in the process to find out details of the final steps. When I met with Rabbi Sarah, she explained what I needed to do to finish my conversion. 

"I need to ask. Are you circumcised?" 

"Yes," I responded proudly, thinking that was one less thing that I had to do. She then explained the Hatafat Dam Brit and gave me a list of several urologists/mohels that could perform the ritual. You can imagine I was less than thrilled. In fact, I was slightly terrified. 

I googled to find information on the ceremony, but unfortunately there was very little out there. I guess it's not a topic that most men want to discuss.  I called three of the phone numbers she had given me and made an appointment with the mohel who sounded the most reassuring.

People who knew that I was converting to Judaism asked me if I was scared when I told them what I had to do. Of course I lied and said no, but the very thought of someone drawing even a drop of blood from my manhood made me anxious. However, I have never been one to let fear stop me from doing anything that I really wanted to do. I thought "well I didn't read anything about how painful it was or that anyone was severely injured so maybe it's no big deal."

I was scared while driving to my appointment, but the mohel immediately put me at ease. He explained what he was going to do, and said not to worry as it was literally one drop of blood. He also explained that since the blessing was not said when I was circumcised, this ceremony was a way to fulfill that mitzvah. He said the prayer, and I closed my eyes, waiting for a sharp pain that would send me through the roof. 

"We're done," he said calmly after a few seconds.

"Really?” I responded. “I didn't even feel it". I was elated as the one thing that I was most scared of turned out to be so easy. The Hatafat Dam Brit was a really powerful experience as it allowed me to symbolically complete the experience of the Brit Milah. The process really made me really feel like I was a member of the tribe. I felt seen as a Jewish man. My suggestion: Celebrate it as one the final steps on your journey into Judaism. Mazel Tov. Kevin Masterson

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