Traditional Jewish Shield

Last updated: 08 March 2014, 18:48 UTC

Style and Method
The traditional infant Jewish circumcision (the ‘Bris’) is performed using a shield and knife (Scalpel). By tradition, the ideal Jewish circumcision removes sufficient foreskin to allow the area just behind the glans to be completely bare and free from rolls of excess foreskin.
Diagram The foreskin is pulled out in front of the glans and a metal shield with a slot in it is slid over the foreskin immediately in front of the glans. The scalpel is then run across the distal face of the shield to remove the foreskin. The glans is protected by the shield and the frenulum is not touched. The tightness of the finished result depends on the operator, but since the cut is always in front of the glans a relatively loose result is normal. However, a skilled Jewish circumcisor (Mohel) can achieve a moderately tight circumcision using this technique.

The minimum amount of inner foreskin left (identified in orange on the diagram) is equal to the length of the glans plus the thickness of the shield. A fully ‘low’ style cannot be obtained by this method.

Photo Photo

The image on the left shows a typical antique Mohel’s kit. The kit on the right is more typical of 20th century design.


The following resources were used in the preparation of this web page:
USA flag Smithsonian logo Photo library of the Smithsonian Institution

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