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Pesach's Bris

Friday, 22 April, 2011 - 3:09 pm

 Dear friends,

Today’s date, thirteen years ago, was the first time I had the privilege to be the Sandek ("Godfather") at a Bris; strangely enough I happened to be younger than the "newborn". 

We were 19 years old when my friend Mendy and I, accepted the mandate to lead Pesach in Uzhgorod, Ukraine. I can probably write a book about the experience of running a public Seder in a town, where Jews hadn't practiced Judaism in public for many decades. There are many small and big stories from that short mission, but one of them remained prominent in my mind.

Peter, a man in the mid 20’s, who we met at the Seder, told my friend Mendy that he wasn't circumcised as a child, like almost all children in the Soviet Union, and he felt that he needs to have it done in order to be a member of the Jewish people, but he was scared... Being that Mendy had helped other boys in summer camps to go through the process of a bris, he spent the night sharing  his past experience, and by the end of the night, Peter agreed.

We called an adult Mohel from South Ukraine; the next morning the mohel embarked on a 16 hour journey to arrive on time for the Bris.

Meanwhile Peter went through ups and down, but on the appointed day he showed up at the hotel suite, which was converted into an operating room... After the Bris we sat down for an emotional celebration at the old synagogue of the town. Peter, who by then had chosen for himself the name Pesach(...) looked uncomfortable but satisfied, although he didn't say much. The next day we left to another city, where we spent the last days of Pesach.

We were hoping to stay in touch, but before emails and facebook, it didn't really happen... Nevertheless very often I found myself thinking of Pesach and hoping to meet him one day...

A few years ago we got a regards from him. A rabbi from Israel who knew Mendy, told him that he met Peter who had made Aliyah and built a family in Israel. Pesach related to him that his real reassociation with his roots began with the bris done with the help of two young Yeshiva students on the fifth floor of a hotel in his birth town.  

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