Religious Circumcision Kills 2nd Infant in Brooklyn

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A second infant in 7 years has died from complications caused by a religious circumcision performed in Brooklyn, New York. The infant, whose name has not been revealed to the press, contracted herpes from the ceremony and died shortly thereafter at Maimonides Hospital. In 2005 another infant died under the same circumstances, according to the Daily News.

The cause of death for both infants was listed as "disseminated herpes simplex virus Type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction."

At the center of the public outcry over the infant death is the Jewish ritual known as a bris. During a bris, an eight-day-old Jewish male is circumcised by a specially trained rabbi known as a mohel (pronounced: moy-al). Doctors suspect that both infants contracted herpes during this ceremony.

Brooklyn, New York's South Williamsburg neighborhood is home to one of the largest communities of orthodox Jews in the world. At this time, it is unclear who performed the procedure on this particular infant, but authorities are investigating Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer.

In 2004, three infants contracted herpes simplex 1 after bris ceremonies performed by Rabbi Fischer. Rabbi Fischer practices an orthodox version of the circumcision ceremony called metzizah b'peh during which the mohel removes excess blood from the baby's penis with his mouth.

City health officials have criticized the ritual for carrying inherent risks for the infants, one of the most severe being exposure to viruses like herpes.


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