This has already been a year of firsts for our family. We were invited to our first Passover Seder and, last evening, we attended our first Bris.
For many years, lifecycle events were something that happened around us, but we weren’t invited. The primary reason was that there are some communities in which the custom is not to invite conversion candidates to Yom Tovim or simchas and that was the custom in our last community, as set out by the Rav there. We would hear of weddings, a bris, or other big events, but we never expected an invitation. Our current community is much more open about things like this and when there is an event like this, everyone is invited.
My daughter sat next to me, already a little tender because she has tendonitis in her ankle from a fun week of camping and fishing. She curled into me, nervous about what she might see. She cringed when the Mohel went to perform the circumcision, wincing at the tiny baby’s cries. I instead saw the care that everyone around that baby boy showed, attentive and doing whatever they could to make this easier as his father held him. There was so much love there as this tiny new Jew was welcomed into the covenant.
Where others might see an outdated or barbaric ritual, I saw the best welcoming of a new member to a community I’d ever seen. We all stood to welcome him into the room, as if he were royalty and the entire community celebrated his entrance into a covenant that has been held, generation after generation, for thousands of years. In a world where all too often we’re left to feel replaceable or even unwanted, this child was welcomed and celebrated by an entire community, not just his proud family. He will grow up knowing that he belongs to something bigger than himself and that he has a place in the world.
It was beautiful. All children should be so eagerly and joyously welcomed.
Perhaps, one day, my children will also be welcomed, albeit through conversion.