Circumcision. New regulations
Photo: GPO
US circumcisers allowed to suck again
Year-and-half ban on oral suction of baby's penis during circumcision lifted, after rabbis agree to adopt new hygiene rules
Controversy resolved: New York ultra-Orthodox rabbis signed an agreement with the State's health commissioner allowing them to perform the traditional oral suction ritual during circumcisions. This puts an end to a year-and-a-half long strife over a ban on performing this ritual, imposed due to severe health hazards.


In the haredi Judaism, it is customary for the mohel (circumciser) to suck the blood from the baby's penis immediately after the bris
(circumcision). In more modern communities, the mohel sucks the blood using a straw.


About a year-and-a-half ago, health authorities in the United States prohibited circumcisers from sucking the blood with their mouth, following seven cases in which babies contracted herpes as a result of the ritual. One baby passed away, and another one sustained brain damage.


During the last five months, American rabbis and Commissioner of Health for the State of New York Antonia Novello, have been involved in intense negotiations, in the course of which "they learned a lot about science, and I studied some Talmud," Novello said.


Israel authorities prefer use of straw


According to the new regulations stipulated in the agreement, circumcisers will have to exercise the hygiene rules enforced on surgeons: They will have to remove all jewelries before performing the suction, clean their nails and wash their hands with an alcohol-based solution under running water for six minutes. In addition, they will have to wash their mouth with a disinfectant solution that contains 25 percent alcohol for 30 seconds.


Mohels will also have to report if they have herpes, and any circumciser infected with the disease will have his license revoked.


It's not the best solution, but it's better than the way it was before, Novello concluded.


Meanwhile in Israel, the Health Ministry recommends that parents opt for suction through a straw over oral suction. "Every mohel is required to inform the parents if he plans to perform oral suction or use the preferred alternative – a tube," the Ministry reported.


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