The story from the Canadian Jewish News posted immediately below raises a fundamental question: When did the rabbis know that oral-to-genital contact during circumcision was potentially fatal to the baby and, when they found out, what did they do about it?
If the CJN story is accurate, ten years before a New York baby died and two others were maimed from oral-to-genital contact, rabbis were well aware of the risk but did not act strongly to safeguard our children.
This is unacceptable conduct which should not be tolerated.
One death from an unnecessary procedure is one death too many, and those whose inaction may very well have caused additional deaths and maiming should not get off without punishment.
What we appear to have here is clergy malpractice. It is certainly unreasonable to expect those whose inaction led to harm to police themselves. But a baby has died, another is brain-damaged and a third injured, and as it now stands, oral-to-genital contact will continue to be practiced in many circumcisions, despite the very real risk of further deaths.
So, what should be done?
Clergy malpractice is an actionable matter in civil law and should be prosecuted as such. Rabbis who knew of the risk but did not act to prevent it should be prosecuted. Any who knowingly covered up the risk may also be open to criminal prosecution, and that prosecution should be encouraged.
While the state should remain aloof from religion, that only holds true where the religion does not endanger the state's citizens. If it does, the state is mandated to act. This is such a case.
Human life is so precious that Judaism views one who saves a life as one who has saved an entire world.
At least two of our precious worlds have been destroyed and others maimed because rabbis failed to act with due diligence.
The time for the states to act is now.