Following Baby's Death, Orthodox Group Urges Followers to Drop Disputed Ritual
By Eric J. Greenberg
March 4, 2005
In response to the death of a New York baby boy from herpes, the top union of Modern Orthodox rabbis is urging Jews to abandon the ancient ritual practice of suctioning the blood by mouth directly from the baby's penis during circumcision.
The Rabbinical Council of America, representing more than 1,000 rabbis, issued a policy statement this week arguing that instead of direct oral suction the tradition known as metzitzah be-peh could be fulfilled with the use of a tube. The statement came following the death of a New York baby from herpes, which officials suspect might have been transmitted from the mouth of a Hasidic mohel during the circumcision process.
RCA's statement is expected to upset Hasidic sects and other ultra-Orthodox communities. Leaders of these Orthodox camps have been vigorously defending the practice of direct oral suction since it came under attack last month ...
Government or religious attempts to ban the direct oral practice were denounced in a pointed February 18 editorial, by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz, editor and publisher of Yated Neeman, an ultra-Orthodox newspaper.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
MORE ON THE HERPES AND CIRCUMCISION STORY in the Forward. It seems that the practice suspected of causing the infection still has its defenders.