Many communities in North America and around the world have a shortage of trained, qualified mohelim to perform the mitzvah of Brit Milah, ritual circumcision. The older generation of mohelim is retiring or dying, and few are replacing them.
To qualify as a mohel one needs to be proficient in two key areas:
Religious training. This includes all the Halacha (laws governing circumcision) as well as training in carrying out a beautiful and meaningful ceremony.
Surgical training. This means being meticulously trained in carrying out a safe, painless and virtually bloodless circumcision. It is equally as important to be educated in recognizing anatomical anomalies that will obviate a circumcision and to be proficient and skilled in recognizing and treating post-operative complications.
Dr. Neil Pollock of Vancouver, British Columbia, and Rabbi Gary Atkins of Bloomfield (Hartford), Connecticut, have joined together to create the world’s first mohel training course that provides instruction in both areas above. Course participants will study at Dr. Pollock's clinics in Vancouver, where he has developed a course involving the provision of a detailed manual, hands on experience operating on models, followed by patient exposure. Dr. Pollock is Medical Director of The Pollock Clinics, which specialize in the provision of infant circumcision. Dr. Pollock is well known internationally for his pioneering efforts and research into creating a safe and painless circumcision technique for infants. He has safely performed close to 30,000 circumcisions to date.
Rabbi Gary Atkins, a graduate of the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America
and a Conservative rabbi for over thirty years, has been a board certified mohel for over twenty-five years.
He has developed a complete course that teaches the Halachic of Brit Milah, from the Shulchan Aruch to
contemporary teshuvot of the Conservative movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards.
Orthodox and Reform responsa are covered as well. He also teaches the background and depth of
Brit Milah within Jewish tradition as well as the ceremonial aspects of providing an educational,
meaningful and inspiring service.
Both Dr. Pollock and Rabbi Atkins have completed the Brit Kodesh mohel training program sponsored by the Rabbinical Assembly and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the center of Conservative Judaism.
"This is a wonderful mitzvah to teach and especially to do," said Rabbi Atkins. "To bring a newborn child into the Covenant of Abraham, as Jews have done for generations, is a true joy for any mohel." Dr. Pollock stated that, "It has been a true privilege and pleasure to train physicians to become practicing mohelim. There can be no substitute for a rigorous and detailed surgical training program provided by a qualified and experienced clinician for any would-be mohel."