Mohel rabbi abuse

“A mohel (Hebrew: מוֹהֵל‎ [moˈhel], Ashkenazi pronunciation [ˈmɔɪ.əl], plural: מוֹהֲלִים mohalim [mo.haˈlim], Aramaic: מוֹהֲלָא‎ mohala, “circumciser”) is a Jewish person trained in the practice of brit milah, the “covenant of circumcision,” notes Wikipedia.1

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Thursday [7 June 2012] that 11 baby boys in New York City were infected with herpes between Nov. 2000 and Dec. 2011 following an ultra-Orthodox Jewish circumcision ritual called metzitzah b’peh — or oral suction — in which the mohel puts his mouth directly on the newborn’s circumcised penis and sucks away the blood,” reports Time Magazine. “The authors of the CDC report write:”

Circumcision is a surgical procedure that can transmit infection if not performed under sterile conditions. Oral contact with an open wound in a neonate risks transmission of HSV and other pathogens. Professionals advising parents and parents choosing Jewish ritual circumcision should be aware of this risk, and direct orogenital suction should be avoided.…

“There is no safe way to perform oral suction on any open wound in a newborn,” [New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas] Farley said. “Parents considering ritual Jewish circumcision need to know that circumcision should only be performed under sterile conditions, like any other procedures that create open cuts, whether by mohelim or medical professionals.”…

None of the mohelim are identified by name in the current CDC report.…

“We’re not oblivious to what’s going on,” Rabbi David Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, told the New York Times in March, regarding the health risks surrounding metzitzah b’peh. He added: “The worst thing that could happen is if the authorities regulate this practice, then it could go underground. . . . I think the practice would continue, but there could be significant difficulty in gathering evidence.” 2

“But mohels putting their mouths on the wounded penises of children is not a health risk, claims Jewish group Agudath Israel of America, who has been fighting tooth and nail to get a new law requiring mohels report the risks of their practice to parents repealed,” notes The Angry Intactivist Joseph4GI at the website:

Aren’t a mohel that tests positive for herpes, and the fact that the lesions appear around the child’s genital area enough proof to conclude that the virus was transmitted via this practice?

Apparently not.…

Perhaps the practice of metzitzah b’peh hasn’t changed in the last 10 years, but the act of keeping silent about these matters has. Just because people were failing to report these cases, does not mean that they weren’t happening, it just means that 10 years ago, people were more willing to keep silent about these matters, and the times have changed.3


Operation Underground Railroad - We rescue kidnapped children from slavery
Operation Underground Railroad – We rescue kidnapped children from slavery

“Rabbi Nuchern Rosenberg…explain[ed] what he described as a “child-rape assembly line” among sects of fundamentalist Jews. He cleared his throat. “I’m going to be graphic,” he said:

A member of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidim fundamentalist branch of Orthodox Judaism, Nuchem designs and repairs mikvahs in compliance with Torah Law. The mikvah is a ritual Jewish bathhouse used for purification. Devout Jews are required to cleanse themselves in the mikvah on a variety of occasions: Women must visit following menstruation, and men have to make an appearance before the High Holidays, such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Many of the devout also purify themselves before and after the act of sex and before the Sabbath.

On a visit to Jerusalem in 2005, Rabbi Rosenberg entered into a mikvah in one of the holiest neighborhoods in the city, Mea She’arim. “I opened a door that entered into a schvitz,” he told me. “Vapors everywhere, I can barely see. My eyes adjust, and I see an old man, my age, long white beard, a holy-looking man, sitting in the vapors. On his lap, facing away from him, is a boy, maybe seven years old. And the old man is having anal sex with this boy.”

Rabbi Rosenberg paused, gathered himself, and went on: “This boy was speared on the man like an animal, like a pig, and the boy was saying nothing. But on his face—fear. The old man [looked at me] without any fear, as if this was common practice. He didn’t stop. I was so angry, I confronted him. He removed the boy from his penis, and I took the boy aside. I told this man, ‘It’s a sin before God, a mishkovzucher. What are you doing to this boy’s soul? You’re destroying this boy!’ He had a sponge on a stick to clean his back, and he hit me across the face with it. ‘How dare you interrupt me!’ he said. I had heard of these things for a long time, but now I had seen.”

The child sex abuse crisis in ultra-Orthodox Judaism, like that in the Catholic Church, has produced its share of shocking headlines in recent years. In New York, and in the prominent Orthodox communities of Israel and London, allegations of child molestation and rape have been rampant. The alleged abusers are schoolteachers, rabbis, fathers, uncles—figures of male authority. The victims, like those of Catholic priests, are mostly boys. Rabbi Rosenberg believes around half of young males in Brooklyn’s Hasidic community—the largest in the United States and one of the largest in the world—have been victims of sexual assault perpetrated by their elders. Ben Hirsch, director of Survivors for Justice, a Brooklyn organization that advocates for Orthodox sex abuse victims, thinks the real number is higher. “From anecdotal evidence, we’re looking at over 50 percent. It has almost become a rite of passage.”

Ultra-Orthodox Jews who speak out about these abuses are ruined and condemned to exile by their own community. Dr. Amy Neustein, a nonfundamentalist Orthodox Jewish sociologist and editor of Tempest in the Temple: Jewish Communities and Child Sex Scandals, told me the story of a series of Hasidic mothers in Brooklyn she got to know who complained that their children were being preyed on by their husbands.

In these cases, the accused men “very quickly and effectively engage the rabbis, the Orthodox politicians, and powerful Orthodox rabbis who donate handsomely to political clubs.” The goal, she told me, is “to excise the mother from the child’s life.” Rabbinical courts cast the mothers aside, and the effects are permanent. The mother is “amputated.” One woman befriended by Dr. Neustein, a music student at a college outside New York, lost contact with all six of her children, including an infant she was breastfeeding at the time of their separation.…

The powerful men—and it is worth noting that this community is regulated by men only—who govern the world of ultra-Orthodox Judaism would rather their adherents be blind in their faith, their eyes closed to the horrors Rabbi Rosenberg is exposing. Like the Catholic establishment, the rabbinate seeks to cover up the crimes, quiet the victims, protect the abusers, and deflect potential criticism of their institutional practices. Those who speak out are vilified, and the faithful learn to shut their mouths. When the father of the seven-year-old boy whom Rabbi Rosenberg rescued from the Jerusalem bathhouse showed up to collect his son, he couldn’t believe his son had been raped. Trembling, terrified, he whisked his son away to get medical help but was still too scared to raise a formal complaint. According to Ben and Survivors for Justice, “The greatest sin is not the abuse, but talking about the abuse. Kids and parents who step forward to complain are crushed.”…

The abuse and its cover-up are symptoms of wider political dysfunction—or, more precisely, symptoms of socially disastrous political control by religious elites.…

The rabbis, dominating an ignorant and largely poverty-stricken flock, determine the fate of every individual in the community. Nothing is done without the consent of the rabbinical establishment. A man wants to buy a new car—he goes to the rabbi for counsel. A man wants to marry—the rabbi tells him whether or not he should marry a particular bride. As for the women, they don’t get to ask the rabbi anything. Their place is beneath contempt.…

Michael also notes that the problem is not confined to the extremists. “The same patterns of victim-blaming, covering up, idealizing the rabbis so that cover-ups aren’t even acknowledged, are found all across the spectrum of Orthodoxy,” he told [Ketcham].5


1 Mohel,, at (retrieved: 25 February 2014).

2 Alexandra Sifferlin, “How 11 New York City Babies Contracted Herpes Through Circumcision,” Time, 7 June 2002, at (retrieved: 25 February 2014).

3 Josepth4GI, “NEW STUDY: Ultra-Orthodox Mohels Don’t Give Babies Herpes,” The Angry Intactivist, 10 April 2013, at (retrieved: 25 February 2014).

4 [redacted]

5 Christopher Ketcham, “The Child-Rape Assembly Line: In Ritual Bathhouses of the Jewish Orthodoxy, Children are Systematically Abused,”, 12 November 2013, at (retrieved: 25 February 2014).

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