Above: A Jewish circumcision known as a brit milah (illustration only)
Johannesburg Beit Din And Chief Rabbi Ban Mohel Who Amputated Large Part Of Baby’s Penis
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A haredi mohel who severed a large part of a baby’s penis leaving him permanently disfigured has been banned for life from ever circumcising again, the Johannesburg Sunday Times reported.
The accident was first reported by FailedMessiah.com.
But what the paper does not know is the mohel is already well into 80s. The horrible injury to the boy took place in early 2014.
The ban – which was made to seem more forceful than it really is because the age of the mohel was hidden from the media – was handed down by the Johannesburg Orthodox community’s official beit din (Orthodox religious court) and is backed by the county’s chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein.
Before issuing the ban, which came more than a year after the baby was horribly disfigured, the beit din launched an investigation headed by Judge Phillip Levinsohn, urologist Dr Michael Cohen, and Rabbi Dr. Pinchas Zekry.
Besides the ban on the elderly mohel, all other mohels will have to be accredited through the beit din and be re-certified every two years.
In a terse announcement, the beit din said “in 2014, a circumcision was performed that resulted in devastating and permanent injury to the baby… the mohel will never be accredited to perform circumcisions [again].” But the statement also claimed Jewish circumcision is normally performed "carefully and compassionately" with due regard for the babies – despite copious amounts of evidence that this is simply not true.
Goldstein, the chief rabbi, said Jews had been circumcising their sons for almost 4000 years.
"[It] has a longer track record of proven safety than any other surgical procedure," Goldstein said, failing to mention waves of infectious disease epidemics transmitted through metzitzah b’peh (MBP), the direct mouth-to-bleeding penis suction applied by many haredi mohels just after cutting off the baby’s foreskin. For example, early 19th century rabbinic and public health literature documents waves of baby deaths from syphilis, what we now know as Herpes Simplex Virus 1, and other infections. The deaths stopped when rabbis banned MBP. But many hasidic and some non-hasidic haredi rabbis, especially those from Hungary and Romania, refused to ban MBP and the dangerous practice continues today. It has sickened, maimed, and even killed babies in New York City and elsewhere.
"Jewish circumcisions have been done in South Africa for more than 175 years and this case is the first time that an injury of this severity has been reported,” Goldstein continued. But his claim is carefully parsed. He does not say severe injuries did not occur – he merely says they were not reported or were not as severe as this most recent example.
The beit din’s investigative commission recommended that the age and state of health of the mohel be taken into account before certifying him as competent – an indirect public acknowledgement of the mohel’s actual advanced age.
Although not reported by the paper, the mohel’s name and age was suppressed to both to save him from embarrassment and to protect the baby, who would otherwise be known for the damage he suffered.
But the mohel clearly should have stopped doing circumcisions long before the accident took place. He did not do so, however, and the beit din and Goldstein took no action to try to force him to so until the after the baby was maimed.
In some cases, reconstructive surgery can leave a similarly damaged child with a functional penis.