Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer remains prohibited by a 2007 court order from performing the oral-suction ritual and was sent a letter this morning stating that, a New York state Department of Health spokesman said. Fischer uses his mouth to suction blood from the wound after he removes the foreskin. The centuries-old ritual, called metzitzah b’peh, is used predominantly by hasidic and ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Rockland mohel part of probe into Brooklyn baby's death
Steve Lieberman • Journal News
A Monsey rabbi once linked to the herpes-related death of a baby through oral-suction circumcisions is part of an investigation by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office into a newborn baby’s death from the virus, authorities said today.
Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer remains prohibited by a 2007 court order from performing the oral-suction ritual and was sent a letter this morning stating that, a New York state Department of Health spokesman said.
“He was sent a letter reminding him the summary order is still in effect and that he cannot perform this ritual,” agency spokesman Michael Moran said.
Fischer uses his mouth to suction blood from the wound after he removes the foreskin. The centuries-old ritual, called metzitzah b’peh, is used predominantly by Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox Jews.
The issue became public after the death of one of three babies who had contracted the herpes simplex one virus in late 2004 following the oral-suction circumcisions by Fischer.
In late September, a 2-week-old boy died, leading to the recent investigation into the circumstances of the newborn’s death, according to Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.
The city medical examiner listed the baby’s cause of death as disseminated herpes simplex virus type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction.
Fischer is part of the overall investigation, given his past history, the spokesman said.
Rockland Health Department Commissioner Dr. Joan Facelle said today that there have been no reported herpes cases related to the circumcision method in Rockland.
A newspaper, The Jewish Week, recently reported that Fischer still was performing the controversial circumcisions.
The newspaper reported on taped conversations in which Fischer is heard scheduling a circumcision with a caller who asks him to perform metzitzah b’peh. On the recording, “Rabbi Fischer asks the caller whether the bris will take place ‘in Monsey or the city’, noting that he ‘can only do it in Rockland County’,” according to the newspaper.
There was never definitive medical proof that Fischer passed on herpes to the three children he performed the oral-suction method on back in 2004 and 2005, according to his supporters and his lawyer at the time.
The revelations of three newborns contracting herpes led New York City Health Department officials to put together medical protocols for the oral-suction method with medical personnel and ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbis. The state Health Department also got involved with prohibitions and regulations.
Facelle said there was no specific county prohibition against Fischer. She said the county’s temporary court order was lifted after an agreement was reached between New York City and ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbis establishing protocols and safe medical conditions for the ritual.
Other Orthodox Jewish rabbis and many physicians dismissed the need for a mohel’s lips to come into contact with the baby during a circumcision. They have said a mohel can use a tube to suck the blood.
Monsey Rabbi Moses Tendler, a professor of ethical medical practices and Talmudic law at Yeshiva University, has said the Talmud requires that blood be sucked from the wound during circumcision but not that it be done by mouth. He is one of the authorities who have recommended a tube be used.
Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, said this morning that the issue isn’t the mohel or the method, but people’s rights to practice their religious beliefs in a safe manner.
He said the metzitzah b’peh method has been safe for thousands of years and more people die from skiing accidents than the circumcision method.
“Why should a religious conviction be judged on a different level,” Shafran said, adding there was no definitive evidence that Fischer passed herpes onto the children.
The New York City Department of Health didn’t return a telephone call for comment this morning, referring questions about the baby’s death to a state agency in an email.
There are a number of factual errors in this report. In reality:
1. The 2006 circumcision protocols were enacted by NY State, not NYC, and were written in conjunction with Agudath Israel of America, Satmar, and other haredi groups.
2. Those protocols were recinded in 2007 after Governor Pataki and his corrupt Commissioner of Health left office.
3. Fischer is being investigated, but not necessarily in direct connection to the September MBP baby death. Fischer has a long history of refusing to cooperate with various departments of health.
In addition to these corrections, it appears that Rockland Health Department Commissioner Dr. Joan Facelle may have illegally allowed Fischer to continue doing MBP. If she did, she can be criminally prosecuted by the state, and would be personally liable civilly if any babies were infected by Fischer – facts that can be determined when the state or federal government use the power of the courts to seize Rockland County records, hospital records, and make related arrests. Will this be done? Right now I'd say the possibility it will happen is greater than the possibility that it won't.
As for Rabbi Avi Shafran's statement, his organization has the blood of at least two dead babies on its hands and what could easily be dozens of brain damaged and sickened infants.
Just like Agudah fought mandatory background checks for religious school employees on the grounds of "religious freedom," and fought against the Child Victims Act and other attempts to reduce pedophilia, all of which resulted in dozens of child molestations, Agudah is fighting proper state action here.
People like Shafran and the Agudah rabbinic leaders he shills for would have been run out of office long ago if the haredi world had uncensored in-house media and if it was a democracy.
That haredim are not rioting in the streets demanding the heads of the cabal of men who endanger their children – Shafran, Rabbi David Zwiebel and the Moetzet Gedolei haTorah, Satmar leadership, etc. – is simply further proof that it is not just ancient Canannites who willingly sacrifice their children to the flames of Molech.