Season 4 Episode 1

Prelude to a Bris

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Sep 22, 1990 on ABC

Episode Recap

Hope gives birth to her and Michael's new son Leo. After bringing the baby home, Michael tells Hope they must decide about a bris. Michael's mother Barbara arrives with her "friend," Ben Titleman. Hope likes him, but Michael finds the situation of another man with his mother makes him uncomfortable. Before long both Ben and Melissa are asking about a mohel to perform the bris. Michael and Hope talk with Gary and Ellyn, respectively, about problems including the circumcision, which Michael is leaning toward and Hope against. That night when Michael brings up the subject, Hope wants him to explain it, why it's necessary and why he wants it done.

Melissa drops by DAA with some pictures of Leo and some old relatives of the Steadman family. There's a surprise visitor, also: Rabbi Franklin, a mohel who assumes he is doing a job for Michael. He says Ben contacted him. Michael tels him he'll call later. Hope talks with Barbara and gets emotional, wondering if the circumcision will hurt Leo and what it means to be a Jew. Michael tells Ben he was out of line for taking it upon himself to get a mohel. Hope gives Michael the cold shoulder after this, thinking he doesn't care for Ben because he's Jewish! Hope notes how "un-Jewish" Michael has been throughout his life. She runs away from him during an argument and he follows. Again, a very emotional Hope wants to know: are their children Jewish and what does it mean?

Later Barbara tells Michael that Ben will be with her whether they're married or not, whether Michael likes it or not. He's the one that will take care of her now, she says, not you. Michael talks to Ben at DAA. He apologizes for making the assumption about the mohel. He tells Mike he's a widower of twelve years and that he loves Barbara. Michael wonders what makes someone a real Jew. Ben tells him that he is one anyway, practicing or not, and he must decide whether he will "break the chain." Michael imagines himself with Leo as he approaches his thirteenth birthday. Leo is neither interested in his family's past or in having a bar mitzvah. Hope comes downstairs and tells Michael that she's worked it out for herself (unlike him) and that she wants their son to be a "part of something." A decision is reached. Later, at the bris, Ben shows up unexpectedly. Michael asks Ben to hold the child during the ceremony, a task Gary willingly relinquishes. Michael has a flashback of himself talking to his father.
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