New American Reform Responsa

97. A Minyan and Berit Milah

QUESTION: Is a minyan required for a berit? (Morris F. Rosenberg, El Paso TX)

ANSWER: Reform practice follows the Orthodox tradition in regard to the minyan. It is preferable to have the berit in the presence of ten adults (of course, for us, men or women), but this has not been considered essential (Tur and Shulhan Arukh Yoreh Deah 265.1, see also Itur and Maharil).

It is considered of primary importance to have the berit on the appropriate eighth day unless the illness of a child prevents that. This takes precedence over the ability to gather a minyan, and so even if the berit is held only in the presence of the mother and father without any of the other attendants, this is considered perfectly acceptable.

Without doubt the custom of having a berit in the synagogue, and even setting aside a special chair for Elijah for this purpose is a way of assuring the attendants of a minyan at the service. So the berit is frequently held in conjunction with the shaharit or minhah service and all those in attendance formed a minyan for both the service and for the berit.

For us in the United States it should usually be easy to get a minyan except in the more isolated small communities. If it is possible we should do so. If not, the berit should be conducted in as festive a manner as the circumstances permit.

December 1990

If needed, please consult Abbreviations used in CCAR Responsa.