What You Didn’t Know About Circumcision Rituals (Reader Discretion)

Ernst Moeksis, CC BY 2.0

Feb. 23, 2020 |

The Daily Beast – Health officials in New York City are advising members of the city’s ultra Orthodox Jewish faith to alter a thousands of years old circumcision ritual that has been linked to four recent cases of herpes in newborns.

Four cases of herpes simplex virus 1 infections have been detected in newborns since September 2019.

All were hospitalized, given medication, and are now recovering.

The ritual involves a mohel, or circumciser, putting his mouth directly on the child’s genitals and sucking blood away from the circumcision.

Mohels have received five commissioner’s orders since 2014 banning them from performing the practice … Read more. 

Feb 24, 2020

Gothamist.com – The “metzitzah b’peh” ritual is the circumcision practice in which a mohel sucks the blood from a freshly snipped foreskin of a baby boy.

Outside of the ultra-Orthodox community, the ritual is shunned by Jews, and is considered by many to be an ancient tradition based on “a long-discredited medical theory from the Iron Age before the dawn of the Common Era.”

“Protecting the health and wellbeing of infants is always the city’s first priority,” said Department Of Health spokesperson Patrick Gallahue.

“The spread of neonatal herpes through ritual circumcision is a public health risk. To address this risk, we will continue to work with providers and families across our city to keep our youngest New Yorkers safe.”

The DOH added they have started doing outreach to medical providers in the orthodox Jewish community on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of herpes in newborns, and warn families about the risks of this particular ritual.

At least one of the babies recently diagnosed was not immediately hospitalized because health care providers did not recognize the signs of infection.

The Health Department also noted that there have been no reported cases of herpes from the ritual in the city since 2017, when it came out that at least six babies had been infected with herpes since Mayor de Blasio came into office.

At the time, two of the six mohels who infected the babies were identified and ordered to stop performing the ritual. De Blasio acknowledged that the policy at the time was not working.

Under the Bloomberg administration, the Board of Health ruled that “parents need to be aware of the opinion of experts,” and introduced circumcision consent forms that required parents to sign a waiver before their infant could undergo the procedure.

The city was immediately sued by ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups, who claimed their First Amendment rights were violated … Read more. 

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