A newborn baby in New York was infected with herpes earlier this month by the mohel performing his circumcision.
In ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, some still practice metzitzah b’peh, a form of circumcision ritual where the mohel places his mouth on the baby's penis to suck away the blood after cutting away the foreskin.
Since 2000, this barbaric practice has been responsible for at least 24 cases of newborns being infected with herpes, with two victims dying, and two others left with permanent brain damage.
The New York City Board of Health voted in 2012 to require parental consent forms to be signed before any metzitzah b’peh could be performed. At the time, a group of doctors from Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics said in a letter to Mayor Bloomberg, "The ethical duty to protect the interests of vulnerable infants and to support parents in making informed and responsible choices cannot be overridden."
The consent form requirement outraged many in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community who felt the government was interfering in their free practice of their religion. Never mind that their religious practice was literally killing babies and maiming others.
In response to the consent form requirement, Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg said, "By telling a mohel he is prohibited from performing a religious ritual unless he tells the parents that, by the way, the child might die in the process, you are forcing us to say something which we are convinced is wrong."
Because warning parents that a dangerous and unnecessary procedure might kill their newborn baby is wrong, according to Niederman.
In 2015, Bill de Blasio, Bloomberg's successor as mayor of New York City, caved to pressure from ultra-Orthodox rabbis and rescinded the consent form requirement. His need for Jewish votes outweighed any desire to protect newborn infants.
That brings us to today. The latest victim of this insanity was infected earlier this month. He was, as is tradition, eight days old when the circumcision was performed. Within ten days he developed a severe rash across his groin area. The boy was taken to the hospital where he tested positive for herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1).
The herpes virus is extremely dangerous to newborns, due to their immune systems still being in development.
In 2017, two years after de Blasio waived the consent form requirement, another baby was rushed to hospital after contracting herpes from a metzitzah b'peh. City officials warned that mohels would receive a $2,000 fine for oral suction during a circumcision, but to-date, there have been no charges brought against any mohels by parents of infected children.
This whole mess represents a horrifying failure of parents, community leaders, and local government to put the needs and interests of children first. The archaic and nonsensical beliefs of these severely deluded adults are given precedence over the well-being and health of their children.
I can only hope that at some point in the near future leaders in the city of New York will step up and decide that protecting children is more important than Bronze Age fairy tales and the adults who believe in them.