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My best friend is Jewish, and I have been involved in most of the most important events in his life. I was the best man at his wedding, I celebrated Hanukkah with his family, and I am the "godfather" of his son (although this last item is purely honorary, and if my friend and his now-ex-wife died, I'm sure he would be adopted by one or the other set of grandparents).

I was asked if I wanted to attend the bris, and even to participate in the ceremony, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it - I'm not especially squeamish, but I think seeing the circumcision taking place would have been too much for me to handle. I politely excused myself from the event.

I'm not sure if it is generally accepted for a non-Jewish person to take part in a bris. My friend is almost totally non-observant (not only does he cover himself in tattoos and eat whatever he wants regardless of kosher laws, he even celebrates Xmas), so I am wondering if his invitation was possible only because he doesn't care about the accepted practice among observant Jews.

Is it acceptable for a non-Jewish person to participate in a bris?

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    Re "I was asked if I wanted to attend the bris, and even to participate…, but… I think seeing the circumcision taking place would have been too much": As to participation, sure. But as to attending -- well, I can't speak for that circumcision, but as far as orthodox ones go, the vast majority IME are done on the lap of someone sitting at floor level without crowds peering, and it's very easy to avoid seeing it done altogether if you prefer not to (indeed most people present don't see it done). Just FYI (in case you get invited to another :-)). – msh210 Aug 24 '15 at 5:44
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    Related (not a duplicate): judaism.stackexchange.com/q/30079 – msh210 Aug 24 '15 at 5:45
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    @wad, why rollback to include irrelevant information that distracts from the question? – Seth J Aug 24 '15 at 21:19
  • @SethJ - I don't think it was irrelevant at all. I'm not sure why you're spending the day scrutinizing everything I've posted. – Wad Cheber Aug 24 '15 at 21:23
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    @WadCheber, I'm trying to add value to your posts. – Seth J Aug 24 '15 at 21:26
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See this article regarding the ceremony itself. Near the beginning of the article, it states that non-Jews may attend a brit. As a matter of fact, I invited the CEO of my company, a non-Jew to my 1st son's brit. (It was well-worth the gift that he gave, afterwards, but that wasn't my incentive ;-)

As for participating, IIRC, my rav mentioned that there is no problem with a non-Jew being the Kvater - the one who presents the baby coming into the room. (See details on the ceremony). Sometimes this is given to the grandparents, and there have been many cases where the grandparents are not Jewish, but the parents are. The rav could not find any problem with this honor.

I'm not sure if the sandek must be Jewish. Refer to this reference (I'll try to edit in relevant parts from it, later.) Then, again, being a sandek would bring you about as close to the baby as the mohel, and if your squeamish, you're definitely not going to want to be a sandek.

  • I don't know if the sandek must be Jewish, but it is a huge honor, and I have always heard that it should only be given to someone like a grandfather or a rebbe with a lot of yirat shamayim. – Daniel Aug 24 '15 at 17:14
  • @Daniel To me, this makes sense. Not to discount Talmidei Chachamim by any means, but there are many non-Jews with Yir'at Shamayim as well ;-) Some, in a sense, more "devoted" than me... – DanF Aug 24 '15 at 17:19
  • "Obviously, the mohel must be Jewish" why is this obvious? – mevaqesh Aug 24 '15 at 18:00
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    @mevaqesh Hmmm ... Good point. I think there's a M.Y. question on this point. Thanks for the tip (no pun intended.) – DanF Aug 24 '15 at 18:22
  • I'm not squeamish, but there are limits to my fortitude. :) – Wad Cheber Aug 24 '15 at 21:00

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