About Sam Kunin
Born in Detroit, Michigan, I Iived most of my childhood through young adulthood on the south side of Chicago. After graduating from Hyde Park High School, I attended the University of Michigan and then the University of Illinois, where I completed my undergraduate and medical school training.
I am married and have three sons and seven grandchildren.
After interning at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, I had a year of general surgical residency and then entered the Michael Reese urology residency program. Completing my urology training at Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Los Angeles, I entered the United States Navy, serving at Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton as a urologist.
At Camp Pendleton, during the mid 1960's, I was the only Jewish doctor on base who knew how to circumcise. There was no base or local rabbi. Since Jewish doctors who had been drafted were becoming fathers, I partnered with the Director of the Jewish Community Center in Vista, California in performing Brit milah for the first time.
After leaving the Navy and establishing a urology practice in 1968, I had my third son. Working with a local rabbi I had the honor of performing his Brit milah. In some ways, it was the most stressful one I ever did, as many of my colleagues were watching me. Somehow, we got through it, and my son still talks to me and is happily married.
This experience influenced my future practice as from that point on I decided to always perform the first part of the circumcision privately before actually doing the milah (actual removal of the foreskin) in public. Some 9000 circumcisions later, this is a decision I am glad to have made. It reduces the stress factor of the family and those assembled and makes for a very smooth ceremony, while not violating any Jewish laws. Parents have universally accepted and approve of this technique.
Subsequently, many of my colleagues asked me to perform their sons britot. By now, I had learned the blessings and was doing it by myself. Needless to say, when I heard about a course being given to teach physicians how to become a mohel, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn't know that this was to become a historic course since it was the first organized course designed to certify physician-mohelim.
Over the next ten years I was a part-time mohel, at times much to the chagrin of my partners as my Brit milah practice steadily increased. The "problem" was solved in 1993 when I had successful back surgery, which necessitated my retiring from full time active practice. From that time on I have been a full time mohel. However, I still maintain my license and am on the staffs of two local hospitals where I still perform infant through adult circumcision.
Little did I know how that course would change my life, both professionally and spiritually. I spend countless hours counseling couples who are considering a Brit milah or a non-ritual circumcision as well as teaching groups of all ages including rabbinical students in both the Reform and Conservative movements as well as physicians at local hospitals and those in training to become mohelim.
If I had a helicopter to avoid busy Los Angeles traffic, life would be perfect