Saturday, December 29, 2007
When his son was born, Reverend Louis DeCaro Jr. was dismayed to learn that none of the doctors on call at Manhattan’s Allen Pavilion hospital had time to perform the circumcision. At a loss, the DeCaros turned for advice to their Manhattan pediatrician, Andrew Mutnick, who offered a simple solution: Hire a Jewish ritual circumciser, known as a mohel. ...
PM: How about leaving your child's genitals alone as a "simple solution"?
Mutnick put the family in touch with Cantor Philip Sherman, an Orthodox mohel working in the tri-state area. Sherman says he has performed more than 18,000 circumcisions in his 30-year career. There were no piles of bagels and lox waiting in the next room, no family members on hand to celebrate, but the DeCaros developed an admiration for the ancient tradition informing Sherman’s work.
"When [a circumcision] is done by a mohel, you appreciate the gravity, the beauty of the religious connotations," DeCaro said in an interview with the Forward.PM: Hey, Rev, did the mohel use his mouth to suck your baby's bleeding penis after he cut it? That's an Orthodox tradition, too; it's called metzitzah b’peh. After all, you might as well get the whole works for your $700.
PM: What's that you say? You don't believe me and I'm just an anti-Semite spreading vicious lies. Well, in the US, the practice became better known outside the Jewish community in 2004 after Pediatrics published electronically (received for publication Nov. 20, 2003) a case study of eight baby boys infected by the ritual with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Four of the infected infants in the case study had "recurrent episodes of genital HSV infection" and one "developed HSV encephalitis with neurologic sequelae", that is, his brain became inflamed and was damaged. According to a 2003 article in an Israeli medical journal, "Other infectious diseases transmitted during ritual circumcision (and metsitsah) are syphilis and tuberculosis." At least three infants are believed to have been infected with herpes by a New York-area mohel, Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, who refused to be tested for the virus by public health officials. According to the Forward, one of the babies died from the infection in October 2004. The Forward has written several articles on the New York area infections and despite the known risk mohalim are still putting their mouths on the bleeding penises of babies and sucking--it's a sacred practice donchaknow?
Manhattan pediatrician Susan Levitsky makes a point of recommending non-Jewish patients to mohels. Levitsky said she’s been passing out Sherman’s number more often these days, because concerns over hospital-bred infections are rising. "Why would you want to be around an environment with germs?" she asked.
PM: Hey, Doc, if you're concerned about infection, wouldn't it be safer still to not cut the baby in the first place? And keep the mohel's mouth away, too.
That’s precisely the question posed at www.holisticcircumcision.com, a site that Sherman set up for non-Jewish parents. On it, he describes a "quicker, gentler, and more humane" circumcision carried out without the use of "drugs, injections or creams" (he suggests sugar water or wine) in an environment that’s "spiritual and meaningful" instead of "clinical and cold."
PM: How about keeping your barbaric ritual away from vulnerable, unconsenting babies? There is nothing gentle or humane about excising tissue from one of the most sensitive areas of the human body for primitive ritualistic reasons.
Certain families have been won over by this nonritual gospel, despite the added cost.
While fees for hospital circumcisions are absorbed by the family’s health insurance, mohels charge between $700 and $750 for circumcisions performed in the New York area.PM: The procedure should be illegal when used on people who cannot meaningfully give their consent and should not be paid for by insurance. I guess they consider it insurance against the crisis of being born with a normal penis--"Whoops, that foreskin will have to go, good thing we had insurance."
PM: Hey, Reverend DeCaro, if, as I suspect, you are a Christian then you might want to crack open a Bible--you could have spared your child the pain and trauma. According to the Paul:
Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything.The second article is "Jewish Agency Gives Boardroom Clout to Ally of Evangelicals." Lots of interesting bits in this piece:
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love. ...
It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!-Galatians 5, 6; emphasis added
About a decade ago, the head of the Jewish Agency for Israel refused to be photographed taking a check from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. This past week, the agency accepted a hefty donation from the evangelical-backed organization and offered Eckstein a seat on two of its most powerful committees.
Eckstein’s organization and the Jewish Agency, which helped found the State of Israel, announced that IFCJ would donate $45 million to the agency over the next three years, almost all of it raised from evangelical Christians in North America. ...
"For the first time, Christians, who are mainly my constituency, will have a seat at the table," Eckstein told the Forward.
PM: Yes, in the person of one Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Christians who have lost their way and betrayed the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles "will have a seat at the table" of violence and racism but that, unfortunately, probably feels pretty normal for a lot of them.
The moves underscore the astonishing speed with which IFCJ and the evangelical movement in general have grown in stature as supporters of Israel. Even 10 years ago, Eckstein was shunned not only by Jewish Agency head Avraham Burg but also by many American donors.
Some Jewish leaders remain uneasy about allying themselves with evangelicals. But the support, both political and financial, seems to have proved irresistible.
... Traditionally, UJC and Keren Hayesod have supported the Jewish Agency, but support from both has been stagnant. The 2008 budget of the Jewish Agency shows a contribution of $138 million from UJC, down from $140 million the year before, and $44 million from Keren Hayesod, up slightly from $42 million the previous year. ...
With a decline in funding allocations to Israel from American Jews, and studies showing declining emotional attachment as well, donations and political support from evangelical Christians have become essential to Israel.
“I think we accept, with reservations, the political involvement of the evangelical community on behalf of Israel,” said Jewish Agency board member Richard Wexler, chairman of the United Israel Appeal. “It would be rather cynical, having accepted the political help, to reject the financial assistance which has become more and more vital given the reduction in allocations and financial distributions from the federation system in America.”
PM: One wonders what, if anything, Wexler would actually consider to be cynical.
Addendum: Judging from e-mail I've gotten, some of my readers are careless and/or lazy. So, for those special people I'm going to put references and quotes from two of the embedded links in the post here just for them.
First article: Benjamin Gesundheit, MD et al. "Neonatal Genital Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Infection After Jewish Ritual Circumcision: Modern Medicine and Religious Tradition." Pediatrics Vol. 114 No. 2 August 2004, pp. e259-e263.
The authors write in the methods section:
There is no official registry in the United States or in Israel to document the incidence of medical complications after ritual circumcision. The percentage of metzitzah performed by oral versus instrumental suction could not be evaluated statistically.In the abstract, they conclude:
Ritual Jewish circumcision that includes metzitzah with direct oral–genital contact carries a serious risk for transmission of HSV from mohels to neonates, which can be complicated by protracted or severe infection. Oral metzitzah after ritual circumcision may be hazardous to the neonate. (emphasis added)Second article: Rotem Distel MD et al. "Primary Genital Herpes Simplex Infection Associated with Jewish Ritual Circumcision." Israel Medical Association Journal 2003; 5:893-894.
Several cases of transmission of infectious diseases during ritual circumcision have been documented. ... Other infectious diseases transmitted during ritual circumcision (and metsitsah) are syphilis and tuberculosis ... In conclusion, metsitsah performed as part of Jewish ritual circumcision involves orogenital contact and is thus associated with a risk of pathogen transmission between mohel and neonate. This is a real epidemiologic problem considering the thousands of circumcisions performed with metsitsah." (emphasis added)See also:
- "Gems from 'Jewish Medical Law' "
- "Jesus the Israelite"
- "Yes, A Blog Post About Circumcision"
- "Ralph & the Rabbi: a thinner Reed?" by Bill Berkowitz on MediaTransparency.org
- "Circumcision and HIV" on circumstitions.com
- "Doctors Opposing Circumcision HIV Statement" on doctorsopposingcircumcision.org
- "Mutilated Humanity" by Ashley Montagu (né Israel Ehrenberg) on nocirc.org
- "Mayor Balances Hasidic Ritual Against Fears for Babies' Health" NY Times (1/6/2006)
I am sorry to have read such filth
No wonder the moderators of Anglican left have you on moderation.
You write, "if you're going to be honest you must chastise Moslem male circumcision at the age of 6 to 13." Are you always impaired in cogent reasoning or is just when it comes to the subject of Jews? You might as well call the publisher/editor/writer at the Jewish Daily Forward dishonest because they didn't write about Muslims either nor did any of the medical journals.
FWIW, I am opposed to any non-consensual genital mutilation by ANYONE. How about you? I agree with Jeff Blankfort that the charge of anti-Semitism is the first refuge of scoundrels.