Infected Mohel Still Sucks
Mohel linked to metzitzah b’peh death and brain damage is still sucking newborn babies’ penises during circumcision despite a state ban against him
Writing in The Jewish Week, Hella Winston reports that Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer is still doing metzitzah b’peh (MBP), direct oral-to-genital suction, as part of the brises he performs, despite being prohibited from doing so by the New York State Department of Health.
Fischer was directly linked to Herpes Simplex 1 infections given to infants by MBP in 2003 and 2004. One infant died, another was sickened but recovered, and a third was sickened and permanently brain damaged from the infection.
Fischer was linked to another MBP infection in 2007 and was banned from doing MBP by the state health department.
But Fischer has apparently been violating that ban with impunity – in part because it appears the ban was never made public.
Fischer was also banned in 2005 by New York City after the media broke the story of the MBP death and infections. Fischer did not comply with the ban, so the city sued him. But in an apparent political deal with Satmar and Agudath Israel of America along with other haredi groups, the city withdrew the lawsuit and moved the case to a beit din, haredi Jewish religious court.
The state also prohibited Fischer in 2005 from performing MBP, but it lifted its ban almost immediately when Jacob Spitzer, a hasidic businessman and power broker associated with Revival Home Health Care, assured the state that the haredi community had instituted standards and was policing itself.
The Jewish Week also reports that the circumcision protocols – which featured a recommendation that the mohel rinse his mouth with whisky or mouthwash immediately before performing MBP on the baby as a form of infectious disease control – worked out between Agudath Israel of America and Satmar on one hand and the New York State Department of Health on the other and adopted in 2006, were rescinded by the state in 2007. The protocols had been ridiculed by scientists and medical professionals who pointed out that a mohel rinsing out his mouth with wine, whisky or mouthwash immediately before doing MBP provided no assurance the virus would not be transferred to the baby.
The Jewish Week has a taped conversation with Fischer made within the past two weeks in which Fischer agrees to do MBP on a child:
At one point during the phone conversation, the caller asks to be reassured by Rabbi Fischer about metzitzah b’peh.
“It’s perfectly OK,” Rabbi Fischer answers, and then goes on to claim that the recently reported death of an infant in September from a herpes simplex 1 infection was mistakenly reported to the public as being the result of metzitzah b’peh. He added that “the baby’s death had nothing to do with the mohel.”
“The baby passed away on Rosh HaShanah,” the mohel continued, claiming “it took five months for the health department to convince the medical examiner to add the words ‘oral suction’ to the cause of death. The medical examiner did not want to do it … but the newspapers picked it up and it was enough to make the issue.”
When asked by The Jewish Week about Rabbi Fischer’s claims, Ellen Borakove, director of public affairs for the chief medical examiner of New York City said, “Let me tell you that that cause of death was the way it was back in September. It was finalized [shortly after the death].”