Another Baby Gets Herpes From Controversial Circumcision Ritual

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Hasidic man pushes a stroller near the residence of Leibby Kletzky, a murdered eight-year-old boy who went missing from the Hasidic neighborhood of Borough Park, Brooklyn. Many members of the ultra-Orthodox community in Borough Park, Brooklyn, choose not to vaccinate their children. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images/Getty)

Another baby has contracted herpes from a controversial circumcision ritual, according to a health alert the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene sent out on Jan. 28.

The ritual – called metzitzah b'peh – is common among some Orthodox Jewish communities including the city's hasidic enclaves. In the practice, the mohel – the man who performs the circumcision – sucks the blood from the wound.

Health officials say such oral contact can lead to the transmission of herpes. Since 2000, 14 confirmed cases "attributable to direct orogenital suction" have been reported to the department. Two of the babies died and at least two suffered brain damage, according to the alert.

Some Orthodox Jewish Groups, including Agudath Israel of America, have defended the ritual. Agudath Israel and others are currently suing the city to block a requirement that mohels disclose certain risks to parents.

David Zwiebel, Agudath Israel's Executive Vice President, said the city hasn't done enough to rule out other possible sources of the herpes.

"One of the things that we hope will change in the new administration at City Hall is that there will be a willingness, a readiness, to conduct a more complete and thorough investigation," Zwiebel said.

He added that it is an ancient practice and that 14 cases represent only a small percentage of the nearly 4,000 metzitzah b'peh rituals performed a year.

Some in the Orthodox community had hoped Mayor Bill De Blasio would roll back regulations of the ritual. Earlier this month, De Blasio said he'd keep disclosure forms in place for now.


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Comments [3]

Dev from Hell-on-Earth

These people are insane. All religions should be banned. Each one is more ridiculous than the next.

Feb. 01 2014 11:46 AM
Tony from Brooklyn, NYC

Why ban it? They are a totally closed off community of people who look down on anyone non-Hasidic (Jewish or otherwise) as beneath them. If they feel their practice of having rabbis put their mouths on a baby boy's bloody penis is a good idea, who are we to judge their 5000 year old traditions? If a baby happens to catch herpes.. that's one less person for them to be claim on welfare. (As an example google: Kiryas Joel in Orange county). Soon they'll get over their loss when they have another baby (and another.. (and another)). Hasidics make the Wayans look like an only child.

Feb. 01 2014 12:38 AM
Benoit Balz from Nyc

Does anybody in the "hasidic community" have the surname Mohel?

This is a ridiculous practice, and listeners are nauseated every time they hear about it.

DiBlasio ban this please, and rid the city of mohels!

It sounds like blood libel!

Jan. 31 2014 07:30 PM

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