Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

Chef cum Mohel: “I do it all from soup to nuts”

Posted by Oyster on April 9, 2010

For “immediate release”:

One Time Chef Makes The Cut As Bay Area Mohel

Los Gatos, California, April 9, 2010 –When he was in culinary school, Moshe Trager never thought he’s end up a rabbi, much less a mohel. He is fast in the kitchen and his knife skills are impressive. In fact, watching Moshe Trager cook is like watching Bobby Fisher play chess; the movements are fast but you know there’s complex strategy behind them.

“Cooking just came naturally to me,” Trager says, in a deep voice laced with hints of Boston roots. “My Dad and uncle were both in the restaurant business, so I was always in the kitchen.” But while he met Julia Childs several times, Trager never reached celebrity chef status himself.

Today, Trager cooks less but cuts more. In addition to being a rabbi, he is a professional mohel working in the San Francisco Bay Area, which means he has been specifically trained to circumcise newborn baby boys according to a Jewish ritual that dates back to ancient times called “bris mila.”

“It’s a real blessing to be a part of this moment in people’s lives and I’ve done more than 3000 brisses in the 15 years I’ve been a mohel,” he says.

Trager was trained and certified by the world-renowned chief mohel of Israel at Jerusalen’s Shaare Tzedek Hospital.

“This was like learning to play guitar from Jimi Hendrix,” he says. “It was a really unusual opportunity for me and I jumped at it.”

His culinary training came in handy as Trager found he was able to complete the procedure with precision and speed. Where it could take a physician 10-15 minutes to complete a circumcision, Trager is able to do the same in seconds. It’s not surprising that many of his clients are the sons of surgeons, pediatricians and urologists.

“Doctors know that mohels are able to minimize the discomfort for the baby,” says Trager. “Instead of a cold hospital room, where the baby is strapped down, a bris is a kinder, gentler procedure that takes place in your home. The baby is placed on a pillow on his father or grandfather’s lap and is back in his mother’s arms in a matter of minutes.”

The bris isn’t exclusively for Jews anymore. The natural approach has gained popularity among non-Jewish parents and alternative couples.

“I get calls all the time from parents who just want a more holistic approach to circumcision,” Trager says.

Although there is on-going debate about the medical advantages of circumcision, over 80 percent of American’s request the procedure for their sons for reasons varying from religious to aesthetic.

“I’m honored to be a part of this joyful time in people’s lives,” says the chef turned mohel. “My restaurant customers joked that I really do everything from soup to nuts.”

# # # # #

If you’d like more information about Rabbi Moshe Trager, or would like to schedule an interview, please call Rabbi Trager at 415-355-6757 or email him at rabbitrager<at>comcast.net.

For more information, visit: http://home.comcast.net/~marctrager/site/

(Rabbi Moshe Trager)


23 Responses to “Chef cum Mohel: “I do it all from soup to nuts””

  1. Cyrill said

    “80 percent of American’s request the procedure for their sons for reasons varying from religious to aesthetic.”

    This is a misuse of a statistic which says about 79% of adult men are circumcised. The number of American parents requesting circumcision is plummeting and currently sits at about half. Please revise the article.

  2. NurseLisa said

    “I’m honored to be a part of this joyful time in people’s lives,” says the chef turned mohel”

    Joyful for whom? Certainly not for the poor babies.

  3. Brian said

    Joyful??? So you like cutting off parts of kids sexual organs? It’s joyful???Circumisers are in serious denial. Leave childrens sexual parts alone…if as an adult they want to have part of their penis cut off, they can. The real question is why is this even legal?

  4. Hugh7 said

    What NurseLisa said, and “Natural”??? “Holistic”??? (Wouldn’t holistic be cutting the whole thing off?)

    Here are contact details for celebrants of Brit Shalom (Brit B’li Milah – Covenant without cutting). Cheer up, Rabbi, Brisot Shalom still need catering.

  5. EM said

    I am appalled that you would publish an article about a man who mutilates children for a living.

    Imagine if instead he was discussing a girl: where it takes other surgeons 10-15 minutes to remove the clitoris, it only takes him seconds.

    Suddenly, this statement is abhorrent.

    No god would condone mutilating any child in his name. Faith shouldn’t mean you are willing to mutilate your son. If your child chooses to be circumcised, then let your child make that choice at 18.

    You are affecting your child’s sexuality for years to come, their sexual sensitivity, their basic human right to bodily autonomy.

    My son is intact. As nature intended. As god intended.

  6. Oyster said

    I think you all need to get a life. I’m not jumping down your throats telling you how to live your life. Neither is Rabbi Trager, AFAICT. So ease off. Live & let live.

    • Sarah said

      Live and let live is great, except you aren’t providing the same for the children. Ever ask an infant whether he wants his genitals mutilated by some cut-happy weirdo? I bet not. 80% is WRONG, only about 50%, stop spreading LIES to promote this sick little game.

      • Oyster said


        Funny, I don’t see any comments that I’ve left on your blog, telling you how to live your life.

        You come to my blog, and you say that my stats are wrong. Okay, the onus is on you to provide me with the correct numbers, and their source (reputable scientific studies preferred, please).

    • Char said

      Live and let live? Are you serious? Holding someone down and cutting into their body while they scream, clearly does not fall into the category of “letting live”. Think before you speak, or you will show your ignorance.

      • Oyster said

        Char, would you mind not holding me down and cutting into my patience while I scream, since you are doing something to me that is uninvited?

        If you are so into your philosophy of not hurting others, do us a favor and go post your unwelcome comments on a blog that echos your points of view. Your missionary proselytizing is not welcome here, for the umpteenth time.

  7. Char said

    If we were talking about another part of the body, or referring to any other cosmetic procedure people would be apalled. What if the story was, “I can pierce his penis with a hook and insert the ring in just seconds” , or “I can pull out the fingernails in under a minute”. People would have trouble holding down their lunch at the idea of babies being treated in such a way. This nonchalance toward the foreskin, and the barbarity of the procedure itself is truly disturbing. If it were girls, it would be called sexist. Boys deserve the same respect.

    • Oyster said


      I’m sorry, you clearly have mistaken this blog for an anti-circ forum. It is not. Please go proselytize somewhere else.

      • Char said

        I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that only one point of view was welcome here. I’m also sorry to see that you are so proud of your ignorance.

      • Oyster said

        Char, did I mislead you? Did I invite you over to proselytize me to your way of life? I consider it very rude for you to just come over here, uninvited, and start denouncing my way of life, and declaring your opinion to be the ONE TRUE WAY.

        Get a life. Why don’t you go write screeds on your own blog?

      • Char said

        Oh, look! He learned a big new word and wants to show it off! Aww…

  8. Pamela said

    Circumcision is not necessary for non-Jewish boys, but since the majority of non-Jewish Americans are still circumcising their sons, if they are going to have it done they might as well have it done by a mohel since they do a faster job.

  9. lynn said

    a more holistic approach to circumcision…
    how is stripping away of glans of someone’s sexual organ considered HOLISTIC?
    Holistic is the while body and since you are removing part of the body itis an oxymoron to call it holistic. “Natural approach” is a great buzz word to make ppl feel more comfortable since more & more, even jews, are questioning and choosing to leave their sons as G-d made them..Whole-istic!

    • Oyster said

      Have you looked at the definition of holistic? It has nothing to do with being “whole”. It has to do with being greater than the sum of your parts, the antithesis of reductionism. You anti-circ folks seem to be very reductionist; focusing on one part, and asserting that without that part, you are incomplete as a person. It seems very materialistic and myopic. You are greater than the sum of your parts!

      Oh, and by the way, in case you are illiterate and missed what I wrote before: this is not an anti-circ forum. Please go proselytize somewhere else!

  10. Karen said

    Circumcision isn’t an easy topic for me because I am very conflicted about it. I had my son circumcised because of being Jewish. He did not cry or squirm or act in any way tortured. He was held gently by his grandfather while his mohel/pediatrician completed the procedure (he had been given a local anesthetic a few moments earlier). It was not at all like the videos of babies strapped to boards and screaming. I have been to other brit milahs and none of the babies screamed. So, for parents who are choosing to do what they think is best (maybe they have heard of the recent reports regarding the lowered rates of HIV transmission in males who are circumcised), going to a Mohel such as Rabbi Trager has many benefits.

    When my son was circumcised he was over the traditional eight days-old because he was born with pneumonia. I had grown used to his natural appearance and since his circumcision he has always appeared to have something missing. I have since questioned my decision to consent to his being circumcised in the name of religion/tradition. I have heard that having the brit milah is a test from God that we are following his commandments. I have grown to wonder if the true test is in standing up for our sons and not allowing this procedure? I feel that I did not fulfill my first duty which should have been to protect my son from harm (although, like I said he did not show signs of pain or distress after the anesthesia was administered and he had no known complications, but there of course is the argument that he will have some lessened sensitivities later).

    I have tried to have discussions with my Rabbi about parents not choosing circumcision for their Jewish sons. Let’s just say we have very different opinions on this particular subject even though she has often told me that the Jewish faith is one that can and does change with times. I do know that I will never change her or any one else’s minds if I were to resort to using words like barbaric, mutilate, torture, etc. I’ve also read Jewish writers suggest a mother who chooses to circumcise her son does not love them as much. Another way not to win an argument. People can’t listen if they feel they are being attacked. And people can’t change their minds if they don’t listen. And maybe it won’t be about changing a person’s mind about what choice they would make for their own child, but for them to be open to other Jewish parents deciding not to have their child circumcised, but still wanting a full Jewish upbringing for them.

    I have had many discussions with my son, now 12, regarding the decision we did make for him. He has stated that he does not plan to have any of his sons circumcised. Oh, and he has also expressed some interest in become a Rabbi.

    Maybe after he studies the Torah more he can help answer the question how to fulfill the commandment from God and also our duty to protect our children.

  11. Ellen said


    You and I had a VERY similar experience. My son is now 13 (and thankfully happy with his shmeckle) I made the same decision 3x over but truly not for religious reasons on my part. I caved to Dad’s pressure and the stories I heard from relatives who were not cut about being tortured in the locker room…or laughed at during their first sexual experience. Unfortunately…we aren’t living in Europe and I didn’t want my son to be a test case for the “new norm.” You can’t talk with extremists. For those of us who do our research (as any loving mom would) and decide to circumcise our boys (for whatever our reasons)…a mohel is the best choice. It so happens that Rabbi Trager circumcised my youngest son and I can attest to his professionalism, precision, and kindness. He is FAR from a mutilator. He is one of the kindest men I know. So…to each his own. Live and let live.


  12. Ellen said

    And this just in…GOOD NEWS for those of us who “mutilated” our sons.

    Sex virus lasts longer in uncircumcised men
    Reuters Health

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – While uncircumcised men don’t seem to be at higher risk of acquiring human papillomavirus (HPV), it takes them longer to clear the virus from their bodies, new research shows. Because HPV causes genital warts and certain cancers, the finding, say researchers, could help explain why uncircumcised men have a higher risk of such penile cancers.

    It could also play a role in how likely their partners are to develop infections.

    “Our study demonstrates that the apparent protective influence of circumcision against genital HPV infection may not involve a reduction in new infections but rather the enhanced ability to resolve existing HPV infections,” Dr. Brenda Y. Hernandez of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii in Honolulu and her colleagues write.

    But why this might be, and whether circumcision would be a good way to help prevent the spread of HPV-related disease, remains unclear, according to the researchers.

    Some HPV strains cause cervical cancer in women, and are the targets of the vaccines Cervarix and Gardasil. Some strains may also be associated with penile cancer in men.

    There’s evidence that circumcision lowers a man’s likelihood of developing cancer of the penis and contracting HPV infection, as well as HIV infection, in some populations. Because partners of uncircumcised men face a higher risk of cervical cancer, it’s possible that circumcision could affect the spread of the virus as well, Hernandez and her team note.

    The researchers had previously found that circumcised men were less likely than their uncircumcised peers to be infected with HPV at a given point in time. To determine if circumcision might influence a man’s risk of acquiring HPV infection, as well as how readily he could clear the virus from his body, the researchers followed 357 men for an average of about 14 months. Every two months, the men, 290 of whom were circumcised, underwent HPV testing.

    During the study, the researchers identified 536 different HPV infections, with no difference in risk between the circumcised and uncircumcised men. However, the researchers did find that HPV infections of the head, or glans, of the penis lasted 154 days, on average, in the uncircumcised men, compared to 91 days in the men who were circumcised. The increased duration was seen for both cancer-associated and non-cancer-associated HPV strains.

    Cancer of the penis most commonly develops in the glans, Hernandez and her team point out, and the fact that infection with cancer-related strains lasted longer in uncircumcised men “has clinical significance.”

    It’s possible, they add, “that transmission of HPV to sex partners is more efficient among circumcised men because of the greater duration of their infection.” However, they add, “whether circumcision is an effective means of facilitating HPV clearance has yet to be demonstrated.”

    SOURCE: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/651607 Journal of Infectious Diseases, May 1, 2010.

  13. Oyster said

    Updated some info in the post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: