Principal Participants (besides the baby):
It is a custom to bestow several honors to friends and loved ones at a bris. The following honors are optional:
1. Godparents (Kvatter/Kvatterin) : The godparents have the opening honor of welcoming the baby into the room. Most parents will choose their own siblings (i.e. the baby's aunts and uncles). You may have more than one set of godparents as well as odd or even numbers of them. In some families, it is a tradition to give this honor to a couple seeking to have a child. Jewish folklore holds that the Godparents would provide for the baby’s Jewish education if the parents are unable to do so.
2. Sandak : The designation as a Sandak is considered to be the highest honor at a bris. The sandak traditionally holds the baby on his/her lap during the actual circumcision. However, I prefer the baby on the table during the circumcision for everyone’s security. This person must be comfortable with minor surgery being performed in front of his/her eyes. You may also designate a second Sandak to hold the baby as he receives his Hebrew name, or to sit in the Chair of Elijah with the baby as he is blessed. This honor is usually given to one of the baby’s grandfathers. The Sandak may be either a man or woman, but he/she must be Jewish.
3. Candle lighters (optional): Lighting candles at a bris dates back to the talmudic era. It is certainly not a requirement to light candles at a bris, but doing so provides an opportunity for the family to bestow an honor to loved ones. You may have as many or as few people as you want. Usually, the women of the family light candles. Shabbat candles are easiest. Typically, we will sing the "shechayanu" prayer together during the candle lighting.
4. Rabbi : It is not necessary to have a Rabbi present, but I would be more than happy to share in the officiating
Craig Singer, M.D. Certified Mohel