When society changes we suffer
From the jta:
Fervently Orthodox officials are refusing to abandon a ritual circumcision practice that may have caused the death of an infant.
The officials refused despite months of meetings with New York City health officials, The New York Times reported. Health officials believe three New York-area newborns got herpes; one of them fatally, from the practice of metzitzah bpeh, in which the mohel places his mouth directly on the wound.
The Orthodox Jewish community will continue the practice that has been practiced for over 5,000 years, said Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organization in Brooklyn, after meeting with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.We do not change. And we will not change.
From Christopher Hitchens noted gadfly and maverick in Slate:
..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... 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.
The obvious solution to the health issue is Mohlim be checked. Though I suspect health isn' t the only issue rather society's changed attitude, now percieving this practice as being an anachronisim. Since our culture has newly defined and sexulised the human body, contact to it is no longer deemed innocent.
Changes in society affect everything in it. To our detriment.