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Dr. Sarah Grope: Denver’s first and only mohelet

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Joe and Rachel Greengard Galt, daughter Jasmine and Rachel’s grandmother Helen Bernstein recite blessings as mohelet Dr. Sarah Grope gently holds Jay at his brit milah.Placing an eight-day-old male into a stranger’s arms for a brit milah, the ritual of circumcision that binds men to the Jewish covenant, can be a tremulous act of faith.

Dr. Sarah Grope, a Denver pediatrician and first practicing Reform mohelet (ritual circumciser) in Denver, understands.

One of about 50 Reform women certified to perform brit milah in the US, Grope also is the mother of three sons.

The fusion of personal insight and professional skill gives her an unusual perspective on the age-old Jewish ritual.

“I have done of hundreds of circumcisions in the hospital, but then my first son Avi was born,” she says. “Dr. Kenneth Katz was our mohel. It was so emotional I cried through the whole thing.

“New moms feel their babies are perfect, precious beings. To willingly accept that someone is going to use a knife on them is extremely difficult.”

As a doctor, Grope is well acquainted with the benefits of circumcision. “I had all the reasons in the world for doing this. But rationalization doesn’t ameliorate the emotional piece of being a new mom.

“Eight days after the birth is still a volatile time for us. There are hormonal fluctuations; emotional mood swings — so many things are going on.”

Grope always had strong ties to Judaism and even contemplated being a rabbi at one point. “It’s hard to consider which way to go in life,” she says. “But I’ve always loved medicine, so I followed my first passion.”

She majored in molecular, cellular and developmental biology at CU as an undergrad and matriculated magna cum laude. But wherever she went, a persistent passion for Judaism accompanied her like a familiar melody.

The rest of this article is available in the March 14, 2014 IJN print and digital edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or subscribe to our new online e-Edition.

 

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