Orthodox Rabbis Fight NYC’s Effort to Warn Parents About Herpes Risks of Ancient Circumcision Ritual


Super-duper Orthodox Jewish leaders in New York are bristling under the Health Department’s plan to mandate a parental consent form before rabbis perform the ancient circumcision ritual called “metzitzah b’peh.” So far, some 200 rabbis have objected to the city’s mandate, and have signed a proclamation claiming that the city “printed and spread lies…in order to justify their evil decree,” a decree that jeopardizes a religious ritual.

Ah, but I see we might have run on ahead of ourselves because the question remains: What is the antiquated penis-cutting ritual? Glad you asked! It’s when a specially-designated circumciser called a “mohel” sucks the blood from a freshly clipped foreskin. Though most parents now insist that mohels use sterilized pipettes to perform the metzitzah b’peh, there are some holdouts that want the ritual carried out as if there have been no medical innovations over the last couple thousand years. The problem with this sort of anachronism, however, is that, according to the city’s Health Department records, 11 New York boys have been infected with herpes from herpes-infected mohels who performed the ritual sans pipette.

The city will vote next week about whether to distribute consent waivers, but some rabbis are already saying that they’re not going to comply no matter what the city says because, dammit, religious ritual is far more important than public health.

Despite baby dying after getting herpes, Orthodox rabbis say they’ll defy law on ancient circumcision ritual [NY Post]

Penis-Sucking Mohels Fight City’s “Evil Decree” To Inform Parents About Circumcision Ritual [Gothamist]

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