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June 19, 2008

"All right, where's the bris?"

Let's begin with a couple of mohel jokes.

Here's the oldest one in the book: A man is looking to replace his watch band and walks into a store that has watches in its store window. But the proprietor tells him he doesn't sell watches and accessories. "I'm a mohel; I do circumcisions." The man is indignant. "Then why did you put watches in your store window?" The proprietor shrugs and says, "What did you want me to put in the window?"

The second-oldest one: When the mohel retires, the community gets together to give him a gift for all the years of his service. It's a wallet made up of his clippings. When you rub it, it turns into a suitcase.

And try this real-life mohel joke: A mohel goes into court to challenge a speeding ticket. He tells the judge he was speeding because he had an emergency call from a mother whose son had recently been circumcised and was bleeding. He shows the judge his tool kit. The judge throws out the ticket. (via Fark)

Quebec's Jewish chaplain for prisons got a speeding ticket quashed after convincing a judge he'd been rushing to a medical emergency: a baby boy who was bleeding from a ritual circumcision.

"It wasn't like I was going 120 kilometres an hour - I was going a reasonable speed," Jacob Lévy told Judge Alain St-Pierre in Outremont municipal court Monday, where he went to contest the ticket.

After listening to the rabbi's story, the judge said Lévy had proven the "necessity" of why he'd been speeding, and threw out the ticket.

Lévy, who used to be grand rabbi of Geneva and also lived in France, leads the Sephardic congregation at Beth Rambam synagogue in Côte St. Luc. Trained in Jerusalem as a mohel, the Hebrew word for circumciser, Lévy has been practising the ritual procedure for 30 years. His first case was his own son, he told St-Pierre at the Van Horne Ave. courtroom, where he'd brought along his surgical kit as proof of his trade.
I suppose a mohel needs more than just skill to do his job. He needs a certain sangfroid (which is Yiddish for composure under stress).

So it wouldn't surprise me to learn that this mohel had the chutzpah (which is English for chutzpah) to make this plea to the judge. And this was no ordinary mohel, I would add.
Last spring, he was named the province's official Jewish chaplain for prisons, succeeding another rabbi who'd held the job for two decades. As part of his prison duties, Lévy ensures inmates get kosher meals, Jewish prayer books and leather tefillin, which orthodox Jews wear to pray. He also arranges special day passes for Jewish inmates to attend marriages and funerals. Lévy is also qualified as a shochet, a ritual slaughterer of animals.

In April 2006, he protested the high cost of kosher meat in Montreal by slaughtering lambs himself for the Passover holiday and selling the meat cheaply. The move got him censured by the Grand Rabbinat du Québec, which declared the meat not kosher because it didn't have the stamp of approval of the Va'ad Ha'ir, the organization which supervises kosher labelling in the city.
This takes cojones (which is Yiddish for, you should pardon the expression, balls).

As our final mohel joke, I'll leave you with this oldie-but-goodie ad from Saturday Night Live, circa 1977: "Royal Deluxe II."