Modern Brit Milah Décor Blends Elegance with Whimsy.
By Monica Haim
Of the seemingly elusive 613 commandments in Judaism, the Brit Milah—which literally means Covenant of Circumcision and was commanded to first forefather, Abraham—is quite likely the one most universally observed. From the most secular Jews to the radical ultra-orthodox, this mitzvah serves as an outward physical sign of the eternal pact between G-d and the Jewish people, and symbolizes our perpetuity as a nation.
Needless to say, the actual enactment of this age-old deed typically takes an emotional toll on new mothers of newborn sons, which is why it is important to consciously conceive the event as a true celebration of family, culture and heritage. And through clever and playful décor, the Brit Milah can indeed evolve from ancient ritual to collective glorification of newness and identity. Today, celebrating this rite has become an opportunity to be intentionally creative and joyful, and most important, to express the family’s elation that ignites with the arrival of its tiniest new member.
For this particular Brit Milah, the family wanted a clean, fresh and elegant atmosphere—but to also somehow incorporate a sense of imaginative playfulness as a testament to the new baby. Event designer, Lisi Korn, accomplished this by starting with a totally white room, and even installed custom white carpeting on the floor of the salon to fundamentally establish the space—a clean, blank canvas. She opted for a general palette of white, turquoise and yellow, the latter two popping as bright, playful accents throughout the space, and white—the quintessential sumbol of purity and light—serving as its dominating essence.
The greeting station appeared to be floating in a sea of hydrangea and over-flowing orchids, with the white Kipot arranged almost like a cascade along the table surface; and at the chocolate table, little prayer sheets were also provided, containing the one that is traditionally read at the sound of baby’s cry.
The tablecloths each featured a different or no pattern, and the deliberate mismatch lessened the rigidity or formality of the design, and instead allowed for a more organic sense of flow in the room. The blue-themed tablecloths included a pattern of branches in formation, which Korn also interpreted in 3D, by using orchids in that same pattern as centerpieces in some of the tables.
Place settings were made of chunky, white pebbles, allowing a sense of earthiness to come in against the modern feel of the room. For the floral design, Korn chose a blend of orchids and hydrangea in subtle shades of sea-foam green and whites, used in multiple ways throughout. The hydrangea, for example, were formed in a spherical shape and arranged in as the center point of the yellow vases, but the flowers also actually spilled out of the vase, dripping like tentacles over and beyond the edges of the tables, and ran down onto the floor, flowing right into the reality of the room. The designer wanted to include the use of runners, but to add a twist, she created them using flowers. Succulent plants in small vases at the tables and serving areas also added an air of the unexpected.
The minimal placement of smiling toy frogs throughout provided the needed element of “cuteness” that is undeniably innate to the celebration of babies. But the overall look of the décor resulted in a mostly chic atmosphere that was cleverly punctuated with unexpected moments of fantasy and fun.
No Brit Milah can be considered complete without an ample serving of fine lox, bagels and cream cheese; but here, to incorporate something innovative, a Venezuelan arepa station became the hit of the buffet, offering these freshly made Latin-American delicacies with a variety of savory toppings, cheeses and sauces. For dessert, merengues were served with strawberries, along with customized chocolate bars with the baby’s initials in delicate, made-to-order boxes. Orange peel was also customized to match the patterns on the linens. Consider that the dessert table is always an excellent place to highlight the décor, and in this case, gumballs, cookies and candy were displayed in giant translucent jars, alongside modern topiaries in poppy colors and white.
The Brit Milah really is a wonderful opportunity to fuse all varieties of aesthetics and styles, engaging the need for imagination and light-heartedness, without ever compromising the profound and landmark meaning of the gathering.