Parents of four Hasidic Jewish children infected with herpes by ritual circumcision will not tell the New York City Department of Health the names of the mohels who did the procedures, according to the agency.
“Unfortunately, some in the community are resistant to sharing the name of the mohels,” Christopher Miller told DNAInfo. “This is a very insular community. This is a very religious ritual.”
Herpes was passed to the infants via a rare form of circumcision in which the mohel applies his mouth to the circumcision wound to suction out the blood.
The Health Department banned two mohels whom families identified as responsible for their children’s herpes infection. But others herpes-infected mohels remain unknown to the city.
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, a Hasidic rabbi who has spoken up against sexual abuse within the community, attributed the family’s silence to pressure from religious authorities. “The only [reason] why they’re not coming forward is because they’re being threatened, ostracized,” he told DNAInfo.
In the past two decades, metzitzah b’peh has been implicated in the deaths of two infants, brain damage in two more and herpes infections in at least two dozen Hasidic children.