According to Jewish law, every father is responsible to circumcise his child. Since the majority of us prefer not to personally circumcise our own children, we choose a professional mohel to serve as our agent in performing the brit milah.
In Israel, certified mohels are mohels who were licensed by the inter-ministry committee that supervises circumcision, a joint committee of the Health Ministry, Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Chief Rabbinate.
This committee monitors the training of the mohels - in both the practical-surgical aspects and the halachic-theoretical ones, their apprenticeship to certified mohels, and their practical and theoretical exams. This committee also issues and renews mohel licenses and publishes a circumcision manual. Recent proposals would require already certified mohels to attend supplementary classes on circumcision.
There are two levels of certification: "certified mohel" and "expert mohel". A certified mohel with vast experience who passed additional exams earns the title of expert mohel. The committee in charge of supervising mohels compiles and, on occasion, brings up to date a list of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of certified mohels in Israel.
The Circumcision Division of the Jerusalem Chief Rabbinate will fax or mail you a list of mohels in your area, recommend mohels in your area, and receive your complaints about mohels.
In Israel and around the world there are many active uncertified mohels. They are not included in the official list and they are unsupervised. According to the regulations of the Ministry of Health, hospitals may not employ uncertified mohels or permit them to advertise on their premises.
Physicians as Mohels
In addition to professional mohels, there are physicians who specialize in other fields who also perform circumcisions. Some of them circumcise babies in private clinics, while some perform the circumcisions in brit halls. Though knowledge that a mohel is also a physician reassures many parents, medical training does not fully qualify a person to be a mohel. If you, therefore, choose a physician-mohel you must make certain that he also has significant experience performing circumcisions and that he is knowledgeable in the specifically Jewish laws of circumcision (which will prevent him from using some of the tools which he normally uses in medical procedures).
Charges and fees
In Israel, the Chief Rabbinate’s recommendations (as of May 2001):
Certified mohel: 500 shekels + travel expenses
Expert mohel: 730 shekels + travel expenses
As is to be expected, mohels who are in great demand may charge between 1000-1500 shekels for a circumcision. Physician-mohels also generally charge upwards of 1500 shekels. Certain mohels base their rates on their impression of the financial state of the baby's parents.
In addition to the mohel fee, you will need to purchase certain creams and antiseptic agents that your mohel or pediatrician advises you to apply after the circumcision.
The Circumcision Division of the Jerusalem Chief Rabbinate 80 Yirmiyahu Street Jerusalem
Phone: 02 - 531 - 3141 Fax: 02 - 500 - 0278 Hours: Sunday-Thursday 8:00 - 16:00