Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

The Man Who Shaped 20,000 Penises

Philip Sherman has a good claim to have handled more foreskins than any man alive. And possibly more Jewish foreskins than anyone in history. He’s a Mohel who markets himself as a dependable cutter rather than someone who is going to make each bris memorable.

Based in Manhattan, but prepared to hop from borough to borough, Philip Sherman — from February 1978 until today — has been the official ritual slicer for 20,000 circumcisions. I can only speak for two of them, but those were fluently and efficiently done.

Sherman, aka the emoil, says in his interview for the mini-documentary on New York on the Clock, a series of mini-documentaries on ordinary extraordinary New Yorkers, that:

I don’t usually discuss how many brisses I do in a week or my weight but the most I’ve ever done in a day was nine, a set of triplets and six other individuals.

But let’s face it, he can only perform as many brisses as he’s going to get the blessings and the chopping right. That’s a lot of prepuce for one man, he must still have good word of mouth.

Still, 30 years of singing and cutting can take its toll, no?

We don’t have to retire. As long as our eyesight is good and our hands are steady we can continue.

Sherman says that knowing when to stop is the key. With which I heartily concur. As any man knows, even one cut too far would be a tragedy.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.