Twenty-thousand is also the big number behind the New York Times’ profile last week of Philip L. Sherman, a mohel the paper describes as “a kind of bold-faced name” in the world of ritual circumcisions. An associate cantor at Congregation Shearith Israel on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Sherman estimates he has performed 20,000 circumcisions since he conducted his first bris back in 1978, at age 21. In the decades since, he’s performed as many as nine ceremonies in one day, and has become a go-to mohel for celebrities and politicians with newborn sons.
Past patients have included the baby boys of Michael J. Fox, Rachel Weisz and Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer. Not all the recipients of Sherman’s services have been Jewish, however: the article notes that “Muslims and Christians and even . . . Nigerian and Korean babies” have received his attention.
Sherman’s prolific work as a mohel made us curious about how much snipping is necessary to reach 20,000 circumcisions in 34 years. A casual calculation shows that the mohel would need to average roughly 1.6 foreskins per day – seven days a week, without a single holiday – to reach that total.