PERM, Russia - The Jewish community of Perm celebrated one of most ancient Jewish rituals - circumcision. Rabbi Shaya Shafit, a guest rabbi from Moscow, performed the ceremony, which was held at the Jewish Community Center.
A professional physician, Rabbi Shafit underwent a special course in Israel to become a mohel. His activity in Russia and CIS is supported by FJC partner 'Brit Yosef Yitzhak' organization that maintains mohalim and surgical rooms around the world. To date, Rabbi Shafit has already performed about 3000 circumcisions. Though the operation is not very complicated, it is performed under local anesthetic, so that the patient feels no pain.
This week in Perm, five teenagers and adults decided to undergo Brit Mila. Among them was an eighth-grader, Vladimir, a pupil at the local Ohr Avner Chabad Day School. While he was a bit nervous about undergoing this ritual, he believes that every male Jew should undergo circumcision. His mother was also nervous but she fully supported her son's decision.
19-year old student Ilya Shoichet said that he decided to undergo the Brit Mila a long time ago and has since then been waiting for the right occasion to do this.
Traditionally performed on a boy on his eighth day of life, Jews in Russia during the Soviet years were forced to stop this and many other Jewish traditions.
Igor Ternavsky, an art director of the local puppet theater, expressed that his grandfather had wanted him to undergo circumcision in his youth; however, the boy's parents, devoted communists, were steadfastly against this idea. Igor decided to undergo the Brit as an adult. The decision was prompted by a sad event, when a he was disallowed from taking part in a funeral ceremony for his good friend, for the reason that he had not been circumcised. Thus, at the age of 57, he decided to become "a true Jew".
A 66-year old community member, Alexander, was born in 1938, when nobody would even dare to think about circumcising their son. "I feel like I have started a new life," said Alexander following the circumcision ceremony.
The oldest participant, Yakov Bryansky, is 72 years old. Born in Kiev to a well-established family, he was not circumcised in childhood. A row of tragic events in his life, including he death of his son and a car crash, finally prompted him to undergo the Brit Mila, even despite his wife's wishes.
Upon being circumcised, a man has the opportunity to take a new Jewish name. The five men circumcised in Perm chose the names Tzuriel, Benyamin, Avraham, Yakov and Michael.
Chief Rabbi of Perm Zalman Deutch, who organized the ceremony, invited a number of prominent community members to help conduct the Brit Mila - Moshe Ternavsky, Gershon Davidov, Shimon Abramov and Efraim Binyaminov