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Published On: Sun, Aug 12th, 2012

Israeli Pediatric Association calls for an end to metzitzah b’peh, Mohels voice opposition

The circumcision controversy that has been a hot topic in New York City recently, is now being hotly debated in Israel as pediatricians and mohels butt heads over the controversial procedure called metzitzah b’peh.

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The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports today that the Israel Ambulatory Pediatric Association (IAPA) is calling for an end to the controversial circumcision-related rite, in which the circumciser (mohel) places his mouth directly on the newly circumcised penis and sucks blood away from the circumcision wound, also called direct orogenital suction.

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

In addition, the IAPA is calling on Israel’s Health Ministry to require maternity wards and clinics to advise parents against metzitzah b’peh.

The problem with using direct-oral suction is the risk of neonatal herpes as was documented in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weekly report, MMWR in June.

However, the mohels are defiant to the proposed restrictions by the IAPA. According to a report in YNET, Rabbi Chaim Moshe Weisberg, an esteemed mohel, said that haredim will continue to uphold the tradition without any change.

Weisberg said the IAPA is not after the child’s best interest and is against circumcision.

The JTA quotes Weisberg:

“They want all parents to stop circumcising their sons, as they did in Germany,” Weisberg said. “The cases of reported diseases allegedly originating from the custom are very few — and even then they can’t prove it was actually transferred from the mohel. Only if a parent requests metzitzah b’peh, as people have done for 3,000 years, do we do it at his request.

“I’m opposed to compulsion. Why do you want to prevent a Jew from Mea Shearim from upholding the traditions of his forefathers, if he knows what the risk is? Why not respect him?”

According to the MMWR report, the 11 cases of male infants in NYC infected with the herpes virus after this procedure occurred between November 2000 and December 2011. They say that ten of the 11 newborns were hospitalized; two died.

The reported risk of an infant becoming infected with herpes simplex-1 or herpes simplex-2 who undergone direct orogenital suction is 3.4 times greater than an infant who did not go through the ritual procedure.

Neonatal herpes simplex is a relatively rare but very serious disease that can range in severity from localized infections of the skin or eyes to life threatening disseminated infections of the organs and central nervous system.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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