Ottawa’s Jewish community is fortunate to have one of only three female mohels in Canada – Lisa Rosenkrantz, who was recently honored with the Ontario Association of Family Physicians Award for Merit.
Rosenkrantz, who has been in Ottawa since 1981, became Mohel about 25 years ago. At that time, there was only one other Mohel in the city who worked primarily with the Orthodox community. Still today, she is one of just three women doing the work in Canada – the other two female mohels are in Toronto.
She makes two to three breezes a month and has traveled from Iqaluit to Halifax and all of Ontario.
“It’s funny to me because it’s the first Jewish decision parents have to make for their children,” she said. “It is a fine segway into the Jewish community. When I make a breeze, I associate them with Baby Shalom, an (SJCC) outreach program. “
Rosenkrantz, who has worked with all the rabbis in the city, said that although she is unique in the Mohel world, there is no reason – even in the Talmud – that women can not perform breezes.
“Even the non-Jewish person can do it. The most important thing is to get the circumcision done,” she said.
“I always joke with my families, especially if the baby is not crying, something direct like ‘Oh, that’s a woman’s touch.'”
In addition to his busy medical practice, Rosenkrantz is an active athlete who has participated in a Dragon Boat team for gynecologists for more than 10 years.
“Our approach has been fashion, fundraising and fun. The very first year we were number two in fundraising… as doctors, we should be No. 1, ”laughed Rosenkrantz. “We’ve been No. 1 ever since, and we’ve also won the Spirit Award a few times.”
The dragon boat teams dress up in artful costumes every year.
“I remember a year where I passed a group of spectators and overheard ‘That person is my doctor, can you believe it?'”
Rosenkrantz was also instrumental in bringing Dragon Boats to Israel and worked with Debbie Halton-Weiss and another handful of dedicated volunteers.
“There are 150 teams there now,” Rosenkrantz said. “We went five years in a row with the gradual teaching of how to run the festival and how to paddle the boats … in the fifth year, we just saw. They have continued that ever since.”
This year, to welcome Dragon Boats and the festival back, the team of female doctors has decided to remove some of the pressure and simply focus on the “fun” part of their team goals.
Rosenkrantz estimates she has given birth to more than 4,000 babies and helped establish the Queensway-Carleton Obstetric Unit. It is her leadership and dedication that resulted in the award, where Dr. Karen Ferguson and Dr. Kathryn McBride called her a “supportive mentor, an excellent physician and an example of leadership” as well as a “compassionate and wise colleague.”
Rosenkrantz said receiving the award meant a lot to her, “because it was from my peers.”
“I’ve been an intern for 40 years and I still love it … I can not see myself retiring right now,” she said. “The price does not change anything, I still get up and go to work the next day, but in that moment it was pretty amazing.”
Learn more about Rosenkrantz and the circumcision ritual in this former Ottawa Jewish Bulletin article by Rosenkrantz.