Mohels banned after babies contract herpes from circumcision rite

New York City has reportedly banned two mohels, who are people trained to perform ritual circumcisions in the Jewish faith, after several babies became infected with herpes, Forward recently reported.

The mohels had performed metzitzah b’peh, a circumcision ritual practiced in Orthodox communities that involves using the mouth to remove blood from the cut penis. The practice has been the cause of infant deaths in the past. New York authorities banned the mohel involved in a 2004 infant death, Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, from performing the ritual any longer, but the health department has not named the two newly banned mohels.

Even though the practice remains legal, the health department implemented new measures a few years that required mohels to receive written parental consent before performing direct oral suctioning. Forward also reported that several mohels have been known to violate the regulations set forth by the department. Gothamist suggested that some mohels have even continued the practice after being banned from conducting the ritual. Many mohels do not even condone the practice in circumcision rites. Cantor Philip L. Sherman, a mohel, notes that: “Metzitzah can be performed; just the custom of performing it with the mouth (“b’peh”) should be eliminated.”