Circumcision Severs Baby’s Penis, Rabbi Sued

circumcisionA rabbi performed a routine circumcision that resulted in the severing of an eight-day-old baby’s penis during a bris (a Jewish circumcision ritual). The botched circumcision happened in April 2013, and now the rabbi is being sued by the baby’s parents for negligence.

Rabbi Mordechai Rosenberg, who performed the botched circumcision, is still a practicing Mohel. He reportedly claims he is “trained” to perform circumcisions, according to his professional website, which also states he has served as a Mohel in and around Pittsburgh since 1990. Recognized as a Certified Mohel by the American Board of Ritual Circumcision, he was apparently trained and certified by the late Rabbi Yosef Dovid Weisberg, Commissioner of Mohelim in Israel and Chief Mohel of Jerusalem.

The baby boy’s circumcision was performed at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill when the severing occurred. After being immediately rushed to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, the baby’s penis was reattached in a six-hour surgery that also necessitated six blood transfusions and leech therapy. The baby stayed in the hospital for two months. Although the reattachment was considered a success by surgeons, it is not known whether the boy will fully recover.

Although Rosenberg reportedly deemed the circumcision “a tragic accident,” the penis severing could have been avoided if the performance of circumcisions, whether in hospital or by rabbi, were regulated. According to Attorney David Llewellyn, “There’s virtually no regulation of this any place in the United States that I know of.”

Llewellyn, who handles injury cases involving circumcisions, reportedly says the average pediatric urologist spends about 20% of his time fixing injuries as a result of botched circumcisions. This signifies a need for regulation of a delicate procedure that, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, causes serious injury to 1 in 500 baby boys.

Will circumcision be banned?

In October, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted for restricted circumcisions based on a report by the Social Affairs and Health Committee. The question of circumcisions stems from concern for protecting babies from infection and deaths as a result of this religious Jewish ritual.

According to the report, there have been cases where babies contracted herpes. Earlier this month, a baby contracted herpes after a risky circumcision rite called metzitzah b’peh, in which the Mohel sucks blood from the circumcision cut. Because of the oral to genital contact, the baby contracted herpes simplex type 1, the most common type of herpes otherwise known as the cold sore.

According to The Jewish Daily Forward, since the year 2000, there have been two infant deaths and 11 infections or injuries as a result of the controversial metzitzah b’peh ritual. This rite is performed by ultra Orthodox rabbis.

The Parliamentary Assembly is also concerned with violating children’s rights, and suggest that circumcisions should be left up to individual males when they are old enough to consent. The report by the Social Affairs and Health Committee rails against the old tradition of circumcisions in the Jewish faith, which reportedly infuriated the Foreign Ministry in Israel, which deemed the report anti-Semitic.

By Juana Poareo


The Jewish Chronicle Online

The Jewish Daily Forward

NY Daily News

CBS Pittsburgh

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