web analytics
May 24, 2015 / 6 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


NYC Health Commissioner Condemns Metzitzah B’peh, Recommends Safe Alternatives


Brit Milah

Brit Milah ceremony. Photo for illustration purposes only.
Photo Credit: Serge Attal/Flash90

The New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley has issued a strongly worded statement calling for an end to the circumcision-related rite of “metzitza b’peh,” loosely translated as suction with the mouth.

The Talmud requires that after a child is circumcised the blood must be drawn away from the wound by suction, to prevent the baby’s blood from congealing and thus blocking the blood flow in the traumatized organ .

“We perform all the requirements of circumcision… We circumcise,  uncover [the corona], suck [the wound], and place a compress and cumin upon it.” (Shab. 133a)

The first two parts of the circumcision, the removal of foreskin, and the uncovering of the corona, are essential components of the mittzvah, while the suction is considered by many authorities to be prescribed by the sages for medical reasons, and therefore the manner in which the medical concern is being addressed is not mandatory, provided that blood flow has been renewed.

The most convenient, and therefore most common, method of applying the suction is orally. But the spread of orally transmitted viral diseases such herpes simplex has raised concern among medical professionals and parents.

Last September, 2011, a New York City baby died at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center from “disseminated herpes simplex virus Type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction,” according to the death certificate.

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

According to the NYC DOH, while mohalim may rinse their mouths with alcohol-containing mouthwash or even take antiviral medications, there is no proof that these strategies reduce the risk of HSV-1 infection associated with direct oral suctioning.

According to gynecologist Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Halperin who is an expert on medical ethics and is in charge of ethics for Israel’s Helath Ministry, most pregnant women are carriers of the herpes virus, and endow their fetuses with the necessary antibodies. It is the babies of the minority of women who are not carriers who face a deadly risk, according to Halperin.

Health Commissioner Farley said that direct oral-genital suction should not be performed during Jewish ritual circumcision, and announced that several hospitals, including those serving the Haredi community, have agreed to distribute a brochure that describes the risk of contracting the herpes virus from the practice.

The brochure “Before the Bris” describes the risk to infants of contracting herpes through direct oral-genital suction and advises parents to ask the mohel before the bris if he practices metzitzah b’peh.

The brochure is available at all HHC facilities, Maimonides, NYU-Langone, North Shore LIJ, Staten Island University, Lenox Hill, New York Methodist, New York Presbyterian, and Forest Hills.

“There is no safe way to perform oral suction on any open wound in a newborn,” Farley said. “Parents considering ritual Jewish circumcision need to know that circumcision should only be performed under sterile conditions, like any other procedures that create open cuts, whether by mohalim or medical professionals.”

The brochure offers Alternatives to Direct Oral Suctioning:

“Some religious authorities consider direct oral suctioning the only acceptable way to draw blood away from the circumcision cut. But other religious authorities within the Jewish faith approve different means. For example, sometimes a glass tube or a glass tube attached to a rubber bulb is used to suction blood in a way that does not include contact between the mohel’s mouth and the baby’s cut. Others use a sponge or a sterile gauze pad to suction blood. In contrast to direct oral suctioning, there is no evidence that any of these other practices cause HSV-1 infection.”

Among Orthodox German Jewry the custom of metzitza b’peh is not practiced at all.

JTA content was used in this article.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “NYC Health Commissioner Condemns Metzitzah B’peh, Recommends Safe Alternatives”

  1. bloomberg and His rotten games.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Tzipi Hotovely, new Deputy Foreign Minister.
Foreign Minister Hotovely: Tell the World ‘God Gave Israel to the Jews’
Latest News Stories
Chabad of Dead Sea brings friends from Arad to create a last-minute celebration sheva brochot with the seven wedding blessings with a new married couple.

At the ninth hour, Chabad of Dead Sea whipped together sheva brochot in 2 hours for a newly wedded tourist couple — out of nowhere.

Tzipi Hotovely, new Deputy Foreign Minister.

Israel finally has a Foreign Minister who is not ashamed to say the word “God.”

Cairo Jews shove and curse a journalist dressed up as a Jew.

An Arab language website sent a reporter, dressed as a Jew, to the streets of Cairo.

Volunteers with Shomer Hachadash.

Eight years ago, an Israeli rancher from Moshav Zippori in the Lower Galilee region reached a breaking point. Thieves and marauders had been targeting Chaim Zilberman’s sprawling ranch; his land was burnt black and cattle fences cut down. On the verge of bankruptcy, the rancher told his family during a Friday Shabbat dinner one night […]

Scotland Yard said it cannot prevent the upcoming neo-Nazi march that is planned for July 4th.

A store in Rafah, Gaza displays women’s Islamic head coverings for sale.

A State Dept. official is in Israel to talk about making the region nuclear-free.

The highway at the property is a favorite spot for PA Arabs to try to throw

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu annual medical report  as written by his personal physician, Dr. Tzvi Berkovitz, states, “Blood tests were completely normal including those for sugar, cholesterol and fats. The Prime Minister’s blood pressure was normal (120/80), aided by light medication.” The reports notes that “Prime Minister Netanyahu trains several times a week at a […]

The President will speak Friday night at Washington’s largest Conservative synagogue, probably to continue to express his opinion that Israel is racist & Israel should embody “Judeo-Christian”/universal values (as opposed to Jewish values). They’re going to lap it up .

This week ISIS captured two major cities, one in Iraq, one in Syria. Assad’s escape plan revealed.

Israeli Pres. Rivlin expresses deep concern after vandals torch a Bnei Akiva building and synagogue in northern Israel.

More than 70 percent of Muslims in Netherlands reportedly view their brethren fighting the “jihad” in Syria as “heroes.”

Israel rejects a Swiss court decision granting $1.1 billion to Iran after an oil deal went sour after the Islamic Revolution.

Liberman apologizes for describing Netanyahu’s decision to meet with head of Arab Joint Party List as “autistic.”

Former FM Avigdor Liberman slams PM Netanyahu for scheduling talks with the head of the united Arab parties.

More Articles from Yori Yanover
rain ATM

A Jerusalem woman is trying to hold on to her umbrella while withdrawing some cash at a Meah Shearim ATM, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The rain appeared out of the blue (which is how rain should), after a warm week that started to feel like summer. Well, it don’t feel like summer no more. Last […]

Rabbi Meir Mazuz (seen visiting a synagogue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) declared in a public Internet psak that it is legal for a Jew to go up to temple Mount.

Needless to say, Shas, the Haredi Sefardi party, is not happy.

“The only difference between this world and the time of Meshiach is our bondage to the gentile kingdoms.”

Here’s the Israeli Navy boat INS Hanit arriving in Eilat on Saturday, March 8, 2014, after capturing the Klos C, which was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied weapons made in Syria and intended for Palestinian guerrillas in the Gaza Strip. Here’s Israeli Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ram Rotberg speaking with the INS Hanit soldiers in […]

Pat Condell has a new video out, so, sit back, have fun. By the way, Message to Offended Muslims should not be confused with Message to Off Handed Muslims. Also, I’d love to hear what he has to say about Haredim.

The description that came with this picture says: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with American actor Bette Midler during an event at the house of Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in Hollywood on March 6, 2014. But Bette Midler is not really an actor, she’s a singer who made movies for the LGBT community and […]

We will shut them up in the campuses, we will shut them up in the high schools, we will shut them up at the 92nd St. Y.

An Israeli female soldier (because they’re better at removing babies from their homes) evacuates a baby from a settlement in Judea and Samaria some time in the recent past. I’m thinking, if the baby was angry enough, couldn’t he evacuate in return, right there in her arms? Imagine the same picture, except with a settler […]

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/nyc-health-commissioner-condemns-metzitzah-bpeh-recommends-safe-alternatives/2012/06/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: