In New York City’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, two more infants have been infected with herpes after a ritual circumcision. The ultra-religious ritual is not one that all Orthodox Jews engage in. Once again – fundamentalists are shedding an poor light on an entire religion.
There is currently a law in place which requires that parents sign a waiver for this type of procedure. Rabbi’s in the ultra-Orthodox community object to the waivers. Rabbi David Niederman, executive director of the Hasidic United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg, told ABCNews.com, “This is the government forcing a rabbi practicing a religious ritual to tell his congregants it could hurt their child.” Well, yes – because it can. ABC news also reports that since 2000, “there have been 13 cases of herpes associated with the ritual, including two deaths and two other babies with brain damage.”
There has got to be a way to marry religious ritual with safer practices. The ritual in question involves a mohel placing his mouth around the baby’s penis to suck the blood to “cleanse” the wound. It should be noted that this is not a common practice in all Orthodox Jewish circumcision rituals – only the most ultra-religious sects. In the more common practice, mohels clean the circumcision wounds with sterile gauze, a sponge, or use a glass tube to suction away blood.
Fundamentalists in all religions are the cause for most of the stereotypes that exist and end up being ascribed to whole groups of people. I’m sure that many people who read these stories will automatically jump to the conclusion that this is a practice of all Orthodox Jews. These small sects of ultra-religious observers need to recognize the harm they are doing to their religions as a whole. With all of the advances in modern medicine and research about the dangers of infants being exposed to herpes, there is no reason why a child should be subjected to such a dangerously unsterile procedure.
Oh right. The reason is religious freedom and archaic practitioners will always use that catch phrase to hide behind, rather than recognizing that some of their practices may be out-dated and dangerous.