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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Circumcision

By Christopher Hitchens

I can never read the name "Michael Bloomberg" without an automatic free-association that flashes up in my mind. "Little putz," is what my internal prompter always cues to me. Obviously this and other intuitions must be prompted by whatever grand intelligence originally designed me, because here's what I read on page B5 of the New York Times on Friday, Aug. 26:

A circumcision ritual practiced by some Orthodox Jews has alarmed city health officials, who say it may have led to three cases of herpes—one of them fatal—in infants. … The practice is known as oral suction, or in Hebrew, metzitzah b'peh: after removing the foreskin of the penis, the practitioner, or mohel, sucks the blood from the wound to clean it.

The continuing scandal of this practice, which most Jews abandoned many years ago, is newly illustrated by the death of one little boy from type-1 herpes, and the infection of two others, in Staten Island and Brooklyn, after they had been subjected to this ritual by the same mohel. Let's be clear what's involved here. The Times refers to an article published last year in the journal Pediatrics that argued that metzitzah b'peh carries a serious health risk and is, for that reason alone, a violation of Jewish law. ("We suspect … that this entity is underreported for cultural reasons and that the studies described here are only the "tip of the iceberg" of the true incidence of the disease," the authors note). None of this should be hard to comprehend: If it risks the life or health of an infant, then no religious allegiance is or should be required for its condemnation. Q.E.D., as you might say.

What's Bloomberg got to do with this, you may be impatient to know by now. Well, the mayor of the great city where these children were deliberately exposed to infection and death has had a meeting with the Orthodox authorities who like to see this happening to small putzes, and he has expressed himself thus, on his own radio show, again as per the Times:

We're going to do a study, and make sure that everyone is safe and at the same time, it is not the government's business to tell people how to practice their religion.

Study? What study? Can't the fool get through an article by a Jewish authority in Pediatrics? For the Times reporter to add that Mayor Bloomberg's comment appeared to be designed not to "upset a group that can be a formidable voting bloc" was, in the circumstances, worse than superfluous.

Where to start with this? I could wish that Bloomberg were always so careful about keeping out of other peoples' business: He has made it legally impossible to have a cigarette and a cocktail at the same time, anywhere in the city. But I'll trade him his stupid prohibitionist ban if he states clearly that it is the government's business to protect children from religious fanatics. Female genital mutilation, for example, is quite rightly banned under federal law, and no religious exemption is, or ever should be, permitted. The Mormons were obliged to give up polygamy and forcible marriage before they, or the state of Utah, could be part of the United States. A Christian Scientist who denies urgent medical treatment to his or her children may well be hauled up for reckless endangerment, as may those whose churches teach redemption through violent corporal punishment. The First Amendment does indeed forbid any infringement of religious freedom, but it is not, as was once said, part of a suicide pact, let alone a child-abuse one.

Let's by all means hear from Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organization in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who emerged from his meeting with Bloomberg to inform us that: "The Orthodox Jewish community will continue the practice that has been practiced for over 5,000 years. We do not change. And we will not change." You can preach it, rabbi, but you have no more right to practice it than a Muslim imam who preaches the duty of holy war has the right to put his teachings into effect. And Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, the 57-year-old man who ministered to the three boys in question, is currently under a court order that forbids him from doing it again—pending an investigation by the health department. What "investigation?" If another man of that age were found to be slicing the foreskins of little boys and then sucking their penises and their blood, he would be in jail—one hopes—so fast that his feet wouldn't touch the ground. If he then told the court that God ordered him to do it, he would be offering precisely the defense that thousands of psychos have already made so familiar. Preach it rabbi. Preach it to the judge.

A few years ago I traveled to Calcutta with the brilliant photographer Sebastião Salgado, who has made the eradication of polio his signature cause. In 2001, there was a real chance that this childhood-wrecking and frequently lethal malady could go the way of smallpox. Only a few outposts, usually in very bad war zones like Afghanistan, had not been reported as "clear." (The two sides in the civil war in El Salvador observed a truce so that the vaccine could be safely distributed.) But some mullahs in Bengal spread the rumor that the vaccine led to impotence and diarrhea (a bad combo) and urged mothers to keep their children away from the nurses and physicians. Most Bengalis are too smart to listen to ravings like these, which exactly resemble the view of Dr. Timothy Dwight, one of America's founding divines, that vaccination against smallpox was an interference with the divine design. However, in northern Nigeria, where imams now hold state power in many provinces, the polio vaccine has been denounced as a plot "by the US and the UN [!]" to "sterilize Muslims." In consequence of this fatwa, the disease has returned to Nigeria this year and also spread back to several African countries that thought they had bidden farewell to it. Decades of patient and skillful work have been ruined, along with the lives of uncounted children.

Jewish babies exposed to herpes in New York, thousands of American children injured for life after the rape and torture they suffered at the hands of a compliant Catholic priesthood, prelates and mullahs outbidding each other in denial of AIDS … it's not just your mental health that is challenged by faith. Anyone who says that this evil deserves legal protection is exactly as guilty as the filthy old men who delight in inflicting it. What a pity!!!!


EXACTLY!
UOJ

62 Comments:

Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

If another man of that age were found to be sucking penises of little boys . . . . we would call him POPE

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 1:42:00 PM  
Anonymous yitzy said...

baby who died had herpes before the milah,
new york state let go of the restraining order after coming to that conclusion

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 1:44:00 PM  
Anonymous sara lee said...

to amshinover sucking a bloddy member after circumsition is not very sexual sorry nice try

all mohelim are disscusted with the practice and do it only because thats the minhag in some communities

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 1:48:00 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

Of course he did Yitzy - no baby has ever gotten sick from the "mitzvah" of having his wounded baby penis sucked by grown man!!

No way = it's a MITZVAH;) Not possible.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 1:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wasn't just one baby. Make whatever excuses you want. It's criminal.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 2:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 2:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 2:09:00 PM  
Blogger hazeydaze77 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 2:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 2:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 2:29:00 PM  
Blogger Yvan said...

I think the first comment was kind of insulting.

I wanted to know if jews really did crucified Jesus Christ? Or it was just rumors?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 3:08:00 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

Yvan,

The first comment was insulting.

The Romans crucified Jesus. But the Jews were considered complicit somehow because they didn't accept him as a prophet, and may have considered him a trouble maker.

But no, they did not crucify him.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 3:19:00 PM  
Anonymous timchuck said...

The Jews didn't crucify him, but they should have! HAHAHAHAHA!
And I'm not even jewish!
I grew up with all the preaching and carrying on that goes on in a typical Southern Baptist assbackwards, preacher fornicating situation and I say its all false! Every last word of it! Jesus, if he existed at all, which I tend to doubt given all the other BS that gets thrown around like so much confetti but even if he did exist he was a man just like you and me and nothing more. I don't see how anyone can believe he was God or the Son of God or whatever other type of malarky description that doesn't make any sense anyhow. Give me a break!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 3:26:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

TimChuck,
How right you are!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 3:58:00 PM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

The first comment was insulting?why are you the pope?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 5:12:00 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

It was insulting because it prefers to bash other religions as if that contempt justifies the idiocies of our own.

I think we should do better than that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 5:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Timchuck and UOJ -- stick to something you know about, e.g. Judaism.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 5:53:00 PM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

Anonymous as the mohel said suck this

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 6:30:00 PM  
Anonymous timchuck said...

Anonymous, Are you saying I don't know Christianity? Because if you are I can challenge you to a knowledge duel and the subject will be Christianity. Anytime you are ready, sucker.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 7:17:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

TimChuck,
We get a screwball every once in a while.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 7:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cut it out, timchuck, I am laughing. Your comments above show a line of thought that wouldn't lend itself well to a debate on anything, perhaps most of all Christianity. Considering you have no idea who I am or what my knowledge of Christianity might be, I recommend that you drop your offer to debate. A serious conversation with you would be ridiculous, "sucker." (Maybe that's a pun on the rabbis sucking baby boys' privates, in which case, that's funny!) Maybe I've had enough of UOJ's blog. I had been enjoying it up until now. Ah well.....

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 7:40:00 PM  
Anonymous timchuck said...

well, the offer stands. I will debate you on the subject of Christianity since you claim I know nothing of it. the offer stands. come on...maybe you will enjoy the blog again after you prove that I don't know anything.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 7:46:00 PM  
Blogger kjef1 said...

dear, I believe that this is an halachic question, so let the Rabbis who are trained Poskim decide. Its obsurded for any layman to claim to know whats barbaric or not. Then lets go through the Torah and well pick and choose what we lkie and dont like. This is a Halachic issue.
Would i go to any layman about legal advise. Lets ask rav Eliyashiv what he thinks, or Rav Tendler. However, for people who
are not experts in halacha to decide halahic questions is ridiculous. If your posek poskens
for you not to do this practice, then dont do it. Atleast you went to an expert. Also, lets not denegrate Judaism with vulgar terminologies. Its all about respect. If your not a posek , do not pretend to be one. It just makes you look stupid and foolish.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 8:20:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

KJEF1,

For starters metzizh is not a halacha.

Remember that in Judaism,LIFE comes before any other mitzva,THE ONLY EXCEPTIONS ARE:

1-Gilu Arayas (adultery)
2-Shfichas Damim (murder)
3-Avoda Zarah.

THAT'S IT!!!!!

That's why the Jewish people are in sad shape, morons are walking around making NEW LAWS!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 8:45:00 PM  
Anonymous timchuck said...

Well, all right, I guess we won't have a debate about Christianity. I really don' t know what we would have argued about anyway. Anonymous must be a world renowned theologian and has spared me the humiliation. Thank you. That is very charitable and kind of you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 8:45:00 PM  
Blogger kjef1 said...

dear, Whatever it is, let the poskim decide. There is a basis for
it since it has been practiced in certain communities. Let rav eliyashiv,or rav tendler decide.
The problem is every yokel is a posek today. You cant go to shul today without having some self righteous non posek point out to you what your doing wrong. And when you ask him for his source, he has misread it fully. Let established poskim deal with halachic issues. If theres a danger
in the practice,then let the poskim deal with it. Halacha can not be put in the hands of religous vigilantis who cant even learn a single blatt gemora to decide for me whats right or wrong.
Let the established poskinm decide, or the whole halachic system is up for grabs.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 9:10:00 PM  
Blogger Shlomo said...

"The problem is every yokel is a posek today"

Kjef you just described Non-ortho to a T.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 11:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous SARA LEE said...

THE PEOPLE HERE ARE SUCH LOOSERS DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIFE INSTEAD PF BASHING OTHERS PRACTICE

FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
Rabbi Fischer's lawyer, Mark J. Kurzmann, said that absent of proof that the rabbi had spread herpes, he should be allowed to continue the practice. Rabbi Fischer said through Mr. Kurzmann that the twin who died and the Staten Island boy both had herpes-like rashes before they were circumcised and were seen by a pediatrician who approved their circumcision. The health department declined to comment on its investigation.


BUNCH OF SONEI HASHEM YOU ARE SELF HATING JEWS

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 1:12:00 PM  
Anonymous i hate stupid ppl said...

"Loosers?" Learn how to spell, Sora Leah.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 1:57:00 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

Obviously Rabbi Fisher's lawyer would never lie. It must be true! He said so. And it's a MITZVAH.

Long live bloodied baby-penis sucking!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 2:59:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

David,
Mohel Pisher's lawyer sound like Shlomo, our favorite commentator.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 3:03:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Shlomo,
Just call me the YOKEL DAYAN!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 3:05:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Kjef1,
Sounds like you need a good talking to by Gross and myself!

I hate to break it to you, for the most part, halacha has evolved into "make it up as you go along".

There is a "recognized" posek that would say almost anything if the money and politics is right.

Are you related to Shlomo in any way?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 3:09:00 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

A lot of the frum give the same ignorant excuses and defenses.

Once again, I would like to apologize for suggesting that we shouldn't take an Orthodox Lawyer's defense of his client as incontrovertable. I am truly a self-hating Jew for suggesting otherwise.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 3:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can someone post a citation to the article in the journal of pediatrics. It is not proving easy to find.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Good Jew said...

Davisd Kelsey should not have an opinion on this blog, because with all due respect to him, he is an outsider looking in and not someone who was ever REALLY part of the community

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Good Jew said...

David Kelsey should not have an opinion on this blog, because with all due respect to him, he is an outsider looking in and not someone who was ever REALLY part of the community

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Kelsey should not have an opinion on this blog, because with all due respect to him, he is an outsider looking in and not someone who was ever REALLY part of the community

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Kelsey should not have an opinion on this blog, because with all due respect to him, he is an outsider looking in and not someone who was ever REALLY part of the community

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:25:00 PM  
Anonymous David Kelsey said...

A lot of the frum give the same ignorant excuses and defenses.

Once again, I would like to apologize for suggesting that we shouldn't take an Orthodox Lawyer's defense of his client as incontrovertable. I am truly a self-hating Jew for suggesting otherwise.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:26:00 PM  
Anonymous un-orthodox jew said...

Shlomo,
Just call me the YOKEL DAYAN

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shlomo,
Just call me the YOKEL DAYAN

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:27:00 PM  
Anonymous kjef1 said...

dear, Whatever it is, let the poskim decide. There is a basis for
it since it has been practiced in certain communities. Let rav eliyashiv,or rav tendler decide.
The problem is every yokel is a posek today. You cant go to shul today without having some self righteous non posek point out to you what your doing wrong. And when you ask him for his source, he has misread it fully. Let established poskim deal with halachic issues. If theres a danger
in the practice,then let the poskim deal with it. Halacha can not be put in the hands of religous vigilantis who cant even learn a single blatt gemora to decide for me whats right or wrong.
Let the established poskinm decide, or the whole halachic system is up for grabs.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:28:00 PM  
Anonymous comment removed said...

This post has been removed by the blog administrator

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cut it out, timchuck, I am laughing. Your comments above show a line of thought that wouldn't lend itself well to a debate on anything, perhaps most of all Christianity. Considering you have no idea who I am or what my knowledge of Christianity might be, I recommend that you drop your offer to debate. A serious conversation with you would be ridiculous, "sucker." (Maybe that's a pun on the rabbis sucking baby boys' privates, in which case, that's funny!) Maybe I've had enough of UOJ's blog. I had been enjoying it up until now. Ah well.....

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:29:00 PM  
Anonymous amshinover said...

If another man of that age were found to be sucking penises of little boys . . . . we would call him POPE

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:29:00 PM  
Anonymous yitzy said...

baby who died had herpes before the milah,
new york state let go of the restraining order after coming to that conclusion

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:30:00 PM  
Anonymous sara lee said...

to amshinover sucking a bloddy member after circumsition is not very sexual sorry nice try

all mohelim are disscusted with the practice and do it only because thats the minhag in some communities

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:30:00 PM  
Anonymous un-orthodox jew said...

Shlomo,
Just call me the YOKEL DAYAN!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:31:00 PM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

David,
The behaimas can't handle our success.!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 5:29:00 PM  
Blogger David Kelsey said...

When people resort to sabotage instead of debate, it is indeed telling of their perceived position of weakness.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 5:31:00 PM  
Blogger kjef1 said...

dear,I hate to break it to you guys if a "recognized posek" is on the take then hes not a posek. People generally know over time whos real and who is not. It becomes obvious, people are not stupid if they do not want to be. The person paying his posek for a good posek is in a sorry state and pathetic even more so than the posek for hire.

Thursday, September 01, 2005 12:06:00 AM  
Blogger Un-Orthodox Jew said...

A Posek is nothing more than a shul rabbi with his hands in his mispallelims' pockets.
The bigger the pocket, the easier the b.s. flows out of his mouth.

Thursday, September 01, 2005 12:27:00 AM  
Anonymous yitzy said...

tendler is an old drunk I know him

he's stupid can't see past his own noze, very arrogant, has his own agenda

for years YU wanted to get rid of him
he is such a pig

old mosser

Thursday, September 01, 2005 1:02:00 PM  
Blogger kjef1 said...

dear , so which posek do you respect and or trust

Thursday, September 01, 2005 1:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yitzy, this is not nice.

very bad boy, yitzy.

Friday, September 30, 2005 2:59:00 PM  
Blogger doer said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 2:32:00 PM  
Blogger 性爱 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 8:38:00 PM  
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Friday, November 04, 2005 2:20:00 PM  
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