Since the inception of the Brit Milah Program in 1984, training of the medical professionals certified by the Brit Milah Board of Reform Judaism has occurred in different formats and in many communities around the United States and Canada. These training courses were highly successful and soundly supported by regional URJ (formerly UAHC) staff, local professionals, graduates of the program and the HUC-JIR faculty. Evidence of HUC-JIR faculty support is seen by the highly varied contributors to Berit Mila in the Reform Context, a book edited by Rabbi Lewis M. Barth in 1990, expressing the HUC-JIR faculty’s opinion about what a Reform Mohel or Mohelet needs to know.
The current curriculum, produced by Rabbi Neal Schuster (Director, 2001-2003), was an expansion of the course taught previously and deals with not only the ritual service of Brit Milah, but also with such issues as Reform Jewish outreach, the role of Halachah in what we do, the psycho-social dynamics of Berit Mila, ways to deal with anti-circumcision rhetoric, etc. Currently, we are fortunate to have rabbinical expertise and guidance from Rabbi Karen Thomashow to continue to add to and improve our program.
Before entering our program, medical professionals must prove infant circumcision proficiency by having a signed document of support from their hospital chief of staff, chief of surgery, or other comparable professional with personal knowledge of the applicant. Upon satisfying that requirement, we assess their other qualifications for acceptance into our Certification Course where we train them in matters of Jewish ritual, liturgy, and education. The Brit Milah program, URJ, HUC, CCAR or any other associated body or individual holds no liability in regard to medical matters.
As the number of Mohalim/ot trained and certified through the program increased, continued education was recognized as a necessary component for the Reform Mohalim/ot to keep them informed of the current trends and resources necessary to remain an integral part of the Reform community in their role as a mohel/et. Thus in 1988, the National Organization of American Mohalim (NOAM) was founded to serve the professional organization for Mohalim/ot certified by the Brit Milah Board of Reform Judaism, with its main focus to provide continuing education opportunities on an assortment of topics, ranging from liturgy to outreach.
During its 25 years of existence, the Brit Milah Program of Reform Judaism has certified more than 300 mohalim, and our mohalim have helped to create meaningful experiences for thousands of families, often times helping these families connect or reconnect with Judaism and Jewish institutions. The Brit Milah Program of Reform Judaism hopes that through its efforts, Brit Milah will welcome entire families into a life enriched by Judaism.