NYC Mayor Failed to Stop Rabbis from Sucking on Newborns’ Penises and Giving Them Herpes March 13, 2017

NYC Mayor Failed to Stop Rabbis from Sucking on Newborns’ Penises and Giving Them Herpes

There’s a disturbing practice in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish culture known as metzitzah b’peh in which a rabbi (mohel) sucks the blood from a baby boy who has just been circumcised. I repeat: The rabbi sucks the baby boy’s penis post-circumcision… because religion.

If that wasn’t disgusting enough, some of the mohels have had herpes simplex, passing the virus on to the children. Since 2000, more than a dozen infants have contracted herpes in this manner and at least two have died.


In some cases, parents weren’t even made aware the mohels were performing this ritual.

That’s why the New York City Board of Health decided a few years ago to make parents sign a consent form first. The thinking was: We can’t necessarily force the rabbis to stop the religious ritual, but we can at least make sure parents are aware of the potential health issues. But in 2015, the Board of Health reversed course, doing away with the consent forms. They gave the rationale that the forms simply weren’t working.

[Mayor Bill de Blasio] believes working closely with the community may be more effective at preventing babies from becoming infected with the virus than the consent form. Many ultra-Orthodox religious figures claim that the restrictions placed by the consent form, required under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, have led to feelings of isolation in the community and noncompliance to the rule.

It’s a concession that should never have been made, even if it was pissing off the people it was supposed to be helping.

Mayor de Blasio didn’t do anything to fix the situation. With the consent forms gone, he met with a group of rabbis and came up with a pathetic alternative:

In exchange for abandoning the consent forms, the coalition of rabbis negotiating with City Hall agreed that if a baby is diagnosed with HSV-1, the community would identify the mohel in question and ask him to undergo testing. If the mohel tests positive for HSV-1, the city’s health department will test the DNA of the strain to see if it matches the infant’s.

If it does, the mohel will be banned from performing the ritual for life.

Rather than stopping this sick ritual entirely, the solution was to wait until a baby got herpes, link it to the mohel, and only then would that mohel be banned from performing the act again.

Meanwhile, the baby would still have the disease.

It was a bad policy then, and it turns out it’s a bad policy now. The New York Post reported over the weekend that de Blasio’s administration never enforced the agreement.

There have been six neonatal cases of herpes resulting from metzitzah b’peh since the deal was announced in 2015, and only two of the suspect mohels have been identified.

“Given how protective families are of mohels and the practice of metzitzah, working with families and the community when there is a new case of neonatal herpes continues to be our better option,” the [Health Department] said.

All of this was prompted by yet another case of baby herpes this month.

This is another example of religious freedom gone too far. When that phrase becomes an excuse for harming other people — whether it’s refusing to provide comprehensive health insurance to employees, or not taking kids to a doctor because you think prayer will heal them, or denying gay couples a marriage license, or refusing to bake lesbians a cake, or passing along herpes to a newborn baby — it must be stopped. Religious freedom can’t be an excuse to get away with something that would never be tolerated outside of the religious bubble.

And it’s shameful that a powerful Democrat didn’t do enough to prevent these crimes because (as one theory goes) he didn’t want to alienate a vocal voting bloc.

(Image via Shutterstock. Portions of this article were published earlier)

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