Is 'Broad City's Description Of A Mohel & A Bris Real? Ilana Had A Lot To Say On The Subject
Thanks to their Jewish heritage, Abbi and Ilana began their Birthright-like trip in the first part of the Season 3 finale of Broad City . In the second part of the finale, "Jews on a Plane," Ilana schooled Abbi and viewers on some traditional ceremonies that are a part of Judaism. Among them was Ilana's explanation of what mohels do at a bris. Whether or not you're not Jewish, a casually practicing Jew, or just a person who had never heard of such things about the Jewish circumcision ceremony, I'm here to fact-check Ilana's explanation for you.
After stating she wanted to join the "Mohel High Club," Ilana told Abbi that it wasn't just a play on words of the infamous Mile High Club. She wanted to act like a mohel and "suck a d*ck on this flight." Abbi was completely confused and llana tried to explain that "mohels suck baby d*ck." At this point, Abbi responded like many viewers likely wanted to by asking, "Dude, I'm sorry, what the f*ck is a mohel and why they are sucking baby d*ck?"
Ilana's explanation that followed was mostly true, but obviously highlighted an unusual part of the Jewish circumcision ceremony. According to Jewish parenting site Kveller, a mohel is a person who performs the ritual of a circumcision for the Jewish faith, and the ceremony is known as a bris. The site details that the bris does not traditionally occur in the hospital, and instead it is performed on an eight-day-old baby boy at home, at a synagogue, or another special location. Kveller reports that the mohel uses a knife to remove the infant's foreskin, which is similar to the surgical procedure that many male babies have done.
Before Broad City, Seinfeld also covered this Jewish tradition in its episode aptly named "The Bris" that featured a very difficult mohel who came to an apartment bris.
The part of the bris Ilana discussed in Broad City is the final stage of "metzitzah b'peh," which, according to Isreael's Haaretz newspaper, is oral suction circumcision, which is an "ancient ritual of sucking blood from the wounds on the infants' penises," according to Haaretz.
At this point, I am compelled to say how this practice is not sexual at all in nature and it's also very uncommon in modern Judaism. In fact, the act of the mohel using his mouth, although 5,000 years old, is not used by the modern Jewish community, according to ABC News. The outlet reported that modern ceremonies use sterile means to clean the wound, and this is only part of ultra-Orthodox Jewish ceremonies. The New York Times reported in 2012 that, in New York City, metzitzah b'peh occurred in an estimated 3,600 circumcisions.
As for the part of the mohel swirling the foreskin in his mouth with wine like Ilana vividly described, I couldn't find any recent articles describing that exact event. But, in the aforementioned New York Times article, mohel A. Romi Cohn is described as drinking wine before placing his mouth on the wound, creating a suction with the liquid in his mouth and then releasing the wine on the wound.
Images: Comedy Central; Caitlin Gallagher/Bustle