If you were planning your son’s bris and could identify the best attributes of a mohel, you’d probably compile a checklist that sounds a lot like a description of Rabbi Eliezer Lawrence, aka “The Family Mohel.”
First and foremost, you’d want someone well-trained and experienced.
Rabbi Lawrence studied at the London School of Circumcision, under the supervision of noted mohel Ephraim Josovic. He also received ktav kabbalah (religious certification for operating as a mohel) from the Chief Rabbinate of Beit Shemesh. He has served as a mohel in the tri-state region (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) for the past three and a half years and has performed hundreds of circumcisions.
He has served families in Bergen County; Riverdale; Flatbush; the Upper West Side and Upper East Side of NYC; Westchester; Cliffside Park, New Jersey; Far Rockaway; West Hempstead; Monroe, New York; Stamford, Connecticut; Jersey City; Livingston; Philadelphia; and many other areas.
You’d want a mohel who understands that a bris isn’t just a ritual medical procedure; it’s an occasion for sharing joy, song, and a love of Yiddishkeit.
Rabbi Lawrence draws on his experience in chinuch and as a singer and baal tefillah (and former member of Pizmon, Columbia University’s Jewish a cappella group) to bring inspiration, personal warmth and melody to each bris. He strives to strike an appropriate balance between conveying a seriousness of purpose, a sense of simcha, and a calming presence at each occasion.
He states that “all Jews deserve a kosher and ultra-safe bris, with sterile equipment, the top precautions, and a spiritually sensitive approach to different family dynamics.” He believes that a bris should be an inspiring experience for all involved and that his role includes a serious pastoral component.
He also asserts that his work does not end at the seudat mitzvah; he checks in with families afterward to make sure each child is healing well, and will take FaceTime calls late into the night if parents have any concerns.
You’d want someone with a good feel of family life and the local community.
Rabbi Lawrence grew up in the Bergen County community and has lived and studied in Manhattan’s Upper West Side and Washington Heights. He currently lives in Riverdale with his wife, Sara Rozner Lawrence, who is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck. When he’s not running between brissim, he teaches Tanach, Gemara, Ivrit and Yiddish at a community day school in Westchester.
You’d want someone who could respond well to unexpected circumstances.
Rabbi Lawrence shares that “my practice actually boomed because of COVID.” He clarified with a leading posek, Rav Hershel Schachter, that a minyan was not needed in person at a bris, allowing families to confidently proceed with their son’s bris in a way that put them at ease and fully respected the precautions of the pandemic.
He paused his practice to get PPE (personal protective equipment) to best protect himself, the babies, their families and any guests. And he is a strong advocate of a respected ruling of the Chatam Sofer, to perform metzitzah b’sfog (application of sterile gauze, rather than mouth or a tube, to draw out blood after the bris), to add another important layer of caution.
You’d want someone who’s earned many accolades from pleased parents.
“From the initial phone conversation through the aftercare/healing process, Rabbi Lawrence demonstrated professionalism, passion for his work and deep insight,” said Marissa Emple from Stamford, Connecticut, in a Google review. “As first-time parents we had many questions, and he patiently answered them (sometimes a few times, when we needed reassurance!). His facilitation of the ceremony itself was accessible to our non-observant relatives, and deeply meaningful for us as Orthodox Jews.”
“Rabbi Lawrence’s soothing voice and calming demeanor positively impacted us and our baby. It was clear that safety and comfort were Rabbi Lawrence’s top priorities, and all parts of the circumcision were performed with sterile technique. We appreciated how clear and thorough Rabbi Lawrence’s aftercare instructions were, as well as his vigilance with regard to monitoring the healing process. We highly recommend him.”
“Rabbi Lawrence was an EXCELLENT mohel,” said Rabbi Mikey Stein from the Upper West Side in a Google review. “The bris was during COVID, and Rabbi Lawrence expertly balanced our family needs and what we wanted for the bris, while also making sure to keep everyone safe. He helped to engage the few people we had in person, as well as all of those on Zoom, framing the bris ceremony through word and song. He was gentle with our son and reassuring to those who were nervous. He helped us prepare beforehand, gave us detailed aftercare instructions, and was always available when we had questions. I can’t recommend him highly enough!”
“Rabbi Eliezer Lawrence was a fantastic mohel,” said Liz Shayne of Riverdale, in a Google review. “He made us feel comfortable and safe, both in terms of the bris and in terms of the precautions he made sure to take during this pandemic. We knew our son was in great hands and Rabbi Lawrence’s instructions and support during aftercare were very helpful, and he was there for all our post-bris, sleep-deprived questions. He was awesome.”
By Harry Glazer