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Israeli Pediatric Association Calls for End to Metzitzah B’peh

By: JTA

The Israel Ambulatory Pediatric Association is calling for an end to a controversial circumcision-related rite that is also under fire in New York.

Direct oral-genital suction, known as metzitzah b’peh, should not be performed during Jewish ritual circumcision, the IAPA said. The association is calling on Israel’s Health Ministry to require maternity wards and clinics to advise parents against metzitzah b’peh, Israeli media reported.

IAPA is recommending that mohels, or ritual circumcisers, use a tube to take the blood from the circumcision wound, preventing direct contact with the infant’s incision.

The rite is not used in most Jewish circumcision ceremonies, but many in the haredi Orthodox community still adhere to it.

The controversy over metzitzah b’peh was reignited in New York in March after it came to light that an unidentified infant died Sept. 28 at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center from “disseminated herpes simplex virus Type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction,” according to the death certificate.

New York Health Department investigations of newborns with the herpes virus from 2000 to 2011 have shown that 11 infants contracted the virus when mohels placed their mouths directly on the child’s circumcision wound to draw blood away from the circumcision cut, according to a statement from the department. Ten of the infants were hospitalized, at least two developed brain damage and two babies died.

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One Response to “Israeli Pediatric Association Calls for End to Metzitzah B’peh”

  1. I have noticed that Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky has come out in rulings against abandoning metzitzah b’peh, against automatically contacting law enforcement in cases of suspected child abuse, and for reparative therapy to cure homosexuality.

    All of these rulings are controversial in part because secular experts and other rabbis consider them all to be against the public interest.

    The RCA and other Orthodox rabbis also do not agree with Rabbi Kamenetsky.

    Metztizah B'Peh by the Pediatric Association and the NY Health Department because it puts babies at risk.

    Reporting is the law when it comes to reporting suspected child abuse. In most cases, children do not invent these stories and not investigating puts the children at risk for more abuse.

    In the case of reparative therapy, all major mental health organizations are against it because it doesn't work and causes harm and even death to patients.
    There are alternative therapies that have as their goal helping the patient achieve their goal of obeying all the Torah commandments.

    Rabbi Kamenetsky is a great scholar and I am not a scholar. But in all of these examples I find it impossible to understand why Human survival and or keeping children from being raped is trumped by anything, let alone custom or a chumra.

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