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Israel Doctors Blast Blood-Sucking Circumcision Rite

The Israel Pediatric Association has declared war on metzitza b’peh, a portion of the ritual that doctors deem medically harmful but ultra-Orthodox rabbis deem obligatory.

Metzitza, the final stage of the circumcision, involves extracting blood from the incision. Today, it is usually done with a sterile tube. But some Haredi (ultra-Orthodox ) communities still use metzitza b’peh, in which the mohel, or ritual circumciser, uses his mouth to suck out the blood.

The practice was originally mandated by the rabbinic authorities because medical science at that time thought it helped prevent infection. But doctors today believe metzitza b’peh can actually cause infection, as diseases can be transmitted in this way from the mohel to the baby.

The pediatric association is therefore urging the Health Ministry to instruct hospital maternity wards and well-baby clinics to inform parents that metzitza b’peh isn’t necessary. The Chief Rabbinate responded that even now, mohels are careful to inform parents of the risks and let them choose. And most choose the tube rather than metzitza b’peh, said Rabbi Moshe Marciano, director of the rabbinate’s brit department.

“It’s true that Haredi mohels refuse to abolish [metzitza b’peh], but they don’t refuse to ask,” he stressed.

For more, go to Haaretz.com

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