A Brit in Mormon Country

A Brit in Mormon Country

Rabbi Benny Tzippel, left, with the mohel, Rabbi Kreiman, at the entrance to Providence, Utah.

by Stacey Kalish - Providence, Utah

June 13, 2007

A brit milah in Providence, Utah?

There are so few Jews in this picturesque tiny town nestled between the Utah Rocky mountain ranges, that the idea of a traditional Jewish circumcision seems unlikely. But, as Chabad's Rabbi Benny Tzippel says, by the workings of Divine Providence, that’s precisely what happened here when Providence saw its first proper Jewish circumcision earlier this month.

To a chorus of Mazel Tovs! Benjamin Cook, first born son to James and Noa Cook, was formally welcomed into the covenant of Israel in a traditional brit milah arranged by RabbiTzippel, and performed by a mohel, flown in from Los Angeles.

One of the most ancient of Jewish laws, the brit milah, or bris, symbolic of the covenant between God and Israel, is traditionally observed on the eighth day as a primary rite of passage for every newborn Jewish male.

Though Benjamin’s father is not Jewish, Noa says that "As soon as I knew i was having a boy, I knew there was going to be a bris." Her attitude testifies to the gravitas of this Jewish tenet, observed across all denominational divides among Jews.

For the twenty or so family members present, most of whom were used to circumcisions taking place in a sterile hospital environment by the pediatrician, the mood was charged and filled with awe.

Benjamin’s grandmother, Edina Cook, for whom this was a first, said, “The sprit of the assembled group coming together for this occasion was very special.”

On the phone from Providence, Noa told Lubavitch.com that the experience made her feel “definitely more connected to my religion. I definitely want to raise Benjamin Jewish.”

The bris was particularly meaningful, says Rabbi Tzippel, considering the setting and all the work involved, including bringing kosher wine and food for the celebratory lunch that followed.  

Rabbi Tzippel lives with his wife and children in Salt Lake City where they serve  Utah's Jewish population of 1500 Jewish households.

This event proves, Tzippel says, "that we all live in a small town of Divine Providence."

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