Baby in New York Dies From Herpes After Circumcision; Florida Mohel Responds

Categories: Health
circ_ancient.jpg
istolethetv via Flickr
Antique tools used for circumcision
A 2-week-old baby in New York has died after being circumcised by a Jewish mohel. The infant reportedly contracted herpes when the mohel put his mouth on the baby's penis to suck away blood, part of a religious ritual called the metzitzah b'peh, which is sometimes a component of a bris. Although the death occurred in September, it was not made public until Saturday, when the New York Daily News published a story.

Avi Billet is South Florida rabbi and mohel who performs the metzitzah b'peh -- but in a way that does not involve direct contact with his mouth.
He was initially skeptical of the Daily News story, believing it served only to reignite fears from 2005, when several babies in the New York area contracted herpes and at least one died. In the wake of those incidents, the New York City Health Department investigated and issued a fact sheet on metzitzeh b'peh.

"There is a safe way to do it with a sterilized tube that is harmless to the baby and still fulfills the Talmudic requirements," Billet told New Times before directing us to his website. There, he quotes the passage in the Talmud that explains how to properly perform a bris. The passage says to "draw out blood," but this phrase has been interpreted differently by various Jews. While Reform Jews and Conservative Jews often skip this step during a bris, Billet says Orthodox Jews usually perform it. Yet even within Orthodox Judiasm, there is a debate on how to go about it. Some mohels -- usually within the Hassidic sect -- will suck the blood away with their mouths. (This is how babies have gotten infected.) Others, like Billet, say it is acceptable to place a sterile glass tube between the mohel's mouth and the baby's penis to avoid direct contact.

"As a Jew, I perform the metzitzeh b'peh," Billet says," but as a normal thinking person of the 21st Century, I don't think it's wise to have the mouth touching an open wound." He has written extensively about how mohels should handle bris ceremonies responsibly.

It's difficult to gather reliable statistics about how many babies die from circumcisions or complications from the procedure. Tim O'Connor, spokesperson for the Palm Beach County Health Department, says he doesn't think it's possible to track that data because if a baby were to die from a circumcision, "hemorrhage" or "infection" would likely be listed as the cause of death. Jenny Mackie, a spokesperson for Broward General Medical Center, says that the hospital does not keep statistics on circumcision complications and that, anecdotally, maternity nurses she asked could not recall any deaths.

One study estimated that 117 boys die each year in the U.S. from circumcision; one critic of that study, however, says the rate is more like 2.6 deaths in 1.3 million circumcisions.

Some activists who oppose circumcision have dedicated web pages to documenting circumcision-related deaths and exploring related issues. See here and here .

For more about their movement, read last month's feature story.


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30 comments
Adyrainbow
Adyrainbow

No, Judaism is responsible. And, none!

Adyrainbow
Adyrainbow

Yes he should. And then all Rabbi's who have performed this non-medical ritual should be arrested and charged with child abuse and grievous bodily harm. Any parents who have given 'consent*' should also be arrested and charged with negligence, any one attending should be charged with complicity. *(How can anyone consent as guardian to physical mutilation, this needs to written in to law, 'As Guardian, no person shall be allowed to grant permission to mutilate, or indoctrinate, their ward.).

Adyrainbow
Adyrainbow

 Thank you. You are right, in a clear and unbiased manner. For myself, I hate every one who mutilates children for the sake of 'group acceptance'. I also despise religion per se for dividing humanity and pitting different groups, defined by their 'religion' (read, choice of superstitious subscription), against each other for Millennia. Hey, I'm old fashioned.  

Adyrainbow
Adyrainbow

Don't get pissy dude, who cares when either Jews or Muslims circumcise, or even Evangelical Yanks? They are all a bunch of sadistic mother fuckers who can't think for themselves, there is no way to rationalise this, if you think critically. It is nothing more than child abuse.

Adtrainbow
Adtrainbow

Funny, I was just commenting about 'trump carding' before I read your reply. Having an educated opinion on religion, in this instance Judaism, the article is about Judaism? Doe's not imply 'Antisemitism' but Antitheism. The 'Antisemitism' is your agenda. You may want to look up the words, critical, and thinking.

Adyrainbow
Adyrainbow

Yes, because of too much memed 'tolerance'. The word 'tolerance' has almost supplanted the word religion in it's trump cardery.

Adyrainbow
Adyrainbow

Who cares whether there is a way to do it safely, it's not necessary out side of the fairytale, the Grim fairytale. Sick fucks!

SingleHerpes
SingleHerpes

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RoseMarry123
RoseMarry123

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No kidding!

Søren Kierkegaard
Søren Kierkegaard

Afterreading about this story, I couldn’t help but thing of Bob Dylan’s “Who KilledDavey Moore (Why and What's the Reason For)”

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

 

Thereis a lot of blame to go around

 

1.The parents who asked that he be circumcised (excuse: they were only followingGod's commands)

 

2.The rest of the baby's family who likely insisted that he be circumcised(excuse: they were only don't what their people have been doing for millennia)

 

3.The mohel who infected the child by taking the child's penis into his infectedmouth (excuse: he was only doing what the parents wanted and what God hascommanded)

 

4.Thomas Friedan, now head of the CDC, was the head of the New York CityDepartment of Public Health when the last child died in a similar fashion anddid nothing to control or stop the process (excuse: not enough politicalpressure for him to act and he was afraid to offend his fellow Jews)

 

5.Mayor Bloomberg was the mayor of New York City when the last child died in asimilar fashion and is still the mayor of New York City and did nothing aboutit then (excuse: he was afraid to rattle his fellow Jews in New York who helpedget him elected)

 

6.The prosecutors in New York City in 2005 could have prosecuted the mohel forhomocide, wreckless endangerment, and child sexual abuse, but chose not to(excuse: afraid to rattle the Jews in New York who helped get him elected)

 

7.The State of New York for allowing mohels to practice medicine without alicense or any regulation (excuse: mohelim have done circumcisions formillennia and they wouldn't want to interfere with religious freedom or rattlethe Jews in New York who helped get them elected)

 

8.Aaron Tobian, Ronald Gray, Robert Bailey, Little Danny Halperin, and all of theother circumcision enthusiasts who push infant male circumcision with thinlyveiled hate speech directed at any male who has a foreskin. They push out thelies to make mutilated families to feel better about what they do and topropagate the practice so no one can have more sexual pleasure than do (excuse:their message is well received. All of the editors of medical editors andnewspaper editors are falling over themselves to publish our twaddle. We couldsell chalk as cheese, and nearly everyone would buy it. They are only tellingpeople what they want to hear.)

 

9.The editors of medical journals, newspapers, and magazine for falling all overthemselves to assist in the circumcision lobby in the propaganda campaignagainst the foreskin instead of looking and publishing the truth (excuse: justtelling the readers what they want to hear and the fear of being labeledanti-Semitic)

 

10.The American medical establishment for looking the other way while infant boysare mutilated. This creates a climate of tolerance and indifference that allowsa human rights violation to occur unimpeded (excuse: only doing what parentswant. If parents stopped asking, they would stop doing it. They also are beingwell paid for it by insurance companies. Insurance wouldn’t pay for it if itwas a bad thing. Afraid of being labeled anti-Semitic)

 

11.Medical insurance companies (and Medicaid in 33 states) pay for infantcircumcision even though they know it is non-therapeutic and is not costeffective (excuse: there is a high demand for the procedure and covering theprocedure makes their product more marketable, so it is worth the cost)

 

Lots of blame to go around and all of these people have blood on theirhands. If any of those in 11 categories of people had the courage to do whatwas right, this baby boy would still be alive and the family would not begrieving the loss of an infant.

cady115
cady115

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Shelly
Shelly

The medical establishment and the officials of New York have blood on their hands. They are ultimately to blame for this tragedy because they could have made this illegal when this last occurred in 2004-2005. How is it that rational, thinking persons cannot see how gruesome and abusive infant circumcision really is? Jake Waskett (one of the sources listed above on infant deaths related to circumcision) is no expert, by the way, and is known as a circumcision fetishist. As a physician practicing over 25 years, I personally know of at least one death directly related to circumcision in the hospital where I worked (and multiple complications of circumcision), but it was not listed as such on the death certificate. This is usually the case. I am aware of many other deaths from infant circumcision from around the country and the world. How many deaths are justifiable for an unnecessary cosmetic procedure??

Catalyst8
Catalyst8

How did a rabbi get herpes anyhow? Aren't they suppose to be celibate before marriage and marry a "good" girl and all that biz?

Obermann
Obermann

This is disgusting, with tones of pedophilia, cult-like ritual satanism.  I couldn't even finish reading the story. 

allthatglittersgirl
allthatglittersgirl

I have been to a few bris and never once have I seen a Rabbi do such a disgusting thing.He should be criminally charged for spreading his contagious disease causing a death.

IslandAtheist
IslandAtheist

I find all religious practices very disturbing.

Barefoot Intactivist
Barefoot Intactivist

As a "normal thinking person," he thinks it's a bad idea to suck blood off a baby's penis. Okay I'm with him so far.

But what about the whole sexual mutilation part that comes before that? Does he lose his thinking cap when it comes to amputating major parts of the penis? Or could it be a combination of (1) financial depending on mutilating babies (it's his job) and (2) a bizarre and irrational bias against the foreskin and unmutilated male genitalia (he's American and Jewish, the ultimate combo for anti-foreskinism).

~Normal thinking person

ChallengerMale
ChallengerMale

This is criminal and sexual assault on a child. It should be reported that way.

Saying so does not make one anti-religious or ant-semetic. Cutting a healthy childs genitalia has no place in the medical community nor does it have any place for religious rite of parents forcing on their child.

A person placing their mouth directly on a childs genitalia is NOT acceptable and any other situation would be deemed as sexual assault on a minor. WHY IS THIS DIFFERENT?? Using a "sterile tube" as the Rabbi mentions isn't justifiable. It is disturbing that it is being taken so lightly by the state and criminal charges are not being filed.

Another mohel did an interview and was also very irresponsible and cowardly in the interview for saying that the cause of this childs death is impossible to determine -even though it was reported that "The official cause is listed as disseminated herpes simplex virus type 1. Complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction."

Shame on the Mohel who put his mouth on this young child, and shame on those who stood by letting this happen to this child.

This story needs more emphasis on why this circumcision ritual is allowed and continues to be performed on children. Interviewing someone who brushed aside the childs death and shamefully claims it doesn't happen that often - truly disturbing.

Male infants need our protection too.

Fast
Fast

I suspect there will be a rush by pedophiles to enter Rabbinical schools/colleges.

TLCTugger
TLCTugger

The way to "handle a bris ceremony responsibly" would be to do bris shalom, a peaceful bloodless naming ceremony suitable for boys or girls. 

Foreskin feels REALLY good.  HIS body, HIS decision. 

gabriel314
gabriel314

On one hand, it clearly shows that Jews aren't the wonderful, civilized beings they spend so much money to portray themselves as. On the other hand, innocent children die, and this community receives a pass for sexual abuse and medical negligence.

Think a Christian or Muslim would get away with that?

And why is that?

Fast
Fast

Since you show a tendency towards anti-semitism, all I wish to say is 'GABRIEL, GO BLOW YOUR HORN', or anything else you wish to blow!

alex
alex

 you are right,,but  how this baby can be ''jewish'' since the jews circumcise ONLY at 8 days born babies ?? I never heard about 2 weeks..

Notice even that there are 100x more circumcised muslims,cus they are 100x more in numbers..These racist is still obsessed on the jews  more than on muslims - what is a proof that You are right..

Im not circumcised and many russian jews are not circumcised - another proof that all this story just racist - they attack the jews as a group because its an easy target..in the opposite proportions of the real numbers

And i dont care about my spell errors,,cuz im not english

Gbrooks314
Gbrooks314

Aww...I offended your delicate sensibilities! How terrible.

Hugh x
Hugh x

 You hve the cart before the horse. It is this kind of thing that causes antisemitism.

figoliu
figoliu

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Kell Bell
Kell Bell

this is disgusting.  i really hope to see an end to genital mutilation of children (boys and girls) in my lifetime.

Chaz Stevens, Genius
Chaz Stevens, Genius

Did I get this right?

The mohel blows a two week old baby?

Jesus H. Christ, wait til the Catholics hear about this...  They'll be a run on new born babies.  No wonder they're so anti-contraception.

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