TALLINN, Estonia - The Jewish community of Tallinn recently held celebration, as local Jewish males ranging in age from 8 days to 25 years underwent the Brit Mila ceremony.
Chief Rabbi Shmuel Kot of Estonia invited Dr. Yeshaya Shafit of Moscow's 'Brit Yosef Yitzchak' Center to conduct the ceremony for his eight-days old son Yakov and other Jews of Tallinn Jewish Community.
Though circumcision is traditionally performed on a boy on his eighth day of life, Jews in Estonia during the Soviet years were forced to stop this and many other Jewish traditions. As a result, five young men, ranging in age from 17 to 25, also took the opportunity to undergo Brit Mila.
The First Secretaries of the Polish and Czech Embassies were deeply honored to have attended the ceremony, and Estonia's Minister of Foreign Affairs congratulated Rabbi Kot with a splendid floral arrangement.
A festive celebration followed the ceremony, and more than 200 guests turned out to mark the occasion.
The Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS in partnership with 'Brit Yosef Yitzchak' Center supports two full-time certified mohels; Dr. Yakov Gaisinovich performs all circumcisions in Ukraine, while Dr. Shafit travels throughout the other Federation countries.
A professional physician, Dr. Shafit underwent a special course in Israel to become a mohel. To date, he has already performed about 3,000 circumcisions.
In addition to his responsibilities at the 'Brit Yosef Yitzhak' Center in Moscow, Dr. Shafit - aka 'the flying mohel' - has spent plenty of time on the road this year.
In January of this year, Dr. Shafit flew to Belarus to perform two circumcisions. It was the first time in 72 years that a Brit Mila ceremony had been conducted in the Jewish community of Grodno.
This April, at a Passover camp held in Moscow, five boys from Volgograd underwent the ceremony of circumcision to symbolize the Jewish spirit living in spite of assimilation. The following month, the Jewish community of Irkutsk held four Brit Mila ceremonies. And this summer, three 'Gan Israel' campers decided to undergo circumcision in Chelyabinsk.
"Not all Jews in the CIS know everything there is to know about circumcision," said Dr. Shafit. "They might have heard that it's something Jews do, but they don't necessarily know that it's the law." Dr. Shafit, who is one of very few qualified mohels in all of Former Soviet Union, said that he takes joy in contributing to the remarkable revival of Jewish life throughout the former Soviet Union.