11 January 2006


The right wing is again striking out against science and critical thinking. However, this time it's right wing Judaism.

We move now to New York City, where those cults are alive, well and very noisy. One mohel, Rabbi Yitzchok (Isaac) Fischer, came under the scrutiny of the New York City Department of Health when three children came down with herpes. One of them died. It seemed Rabbi Fischer had herpes and passed the viruses onto the children during metzitzah b’peh. The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden (Jewish), threatened to take away Rabbi Fischer’s license. The small community the mohel served, went ballistic. They insisted the herpes came from the mothers (it didn't, tests showed) but they agreed to keep Fischer from performing more circumcisions. Meanwhile, three more babies were infected, one with brain damage.

(Joel Shurkin, ...Of Cabbages and Kings)

Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a bioethics expert and Talmud instructor at Yeshiva University, was criticized by ultra-Orthodox leaders and newspapers after he was quoted in the press as saying that the practice of metzitzah b'peh, or oral suction of the circumcision wound, should be conducted with a sterile tube. In many ultra-Orthodox circles, especially within certain Hasidic sects, the ritual is performed by having the mohel suck blood from the wound with his lips directly on the baby's penis.
Tendler painted the controversy as a wider theological conflict, extending beyond the issue of metzitzah b'peh. The real target, Tendler said, is what he represents as a rabbi and scientist working at Y.U., the flagship institution of Modern Orthodoxy.

To prove his point, Tendler said that vandals covered the floor of his synagogue with posters containing various anti-Tendler messages, including the term dokter-rabiner. Literally meaning "doctor-rabbi," the term was employed by right-wing Orthodox activists a century ago in Germany to attack rabbis with ordination from liberal Orthodox seminaries and with academic degrees from secular universities.

Tendler noted that in addition to his Orthodox rabbinic credentials, he has a "reputation as a trained scientist."

"That's a no-no in [the ultra-Orthodox] community," Tendler said.

(Steven I. Weiss, Forward)

My oh my. And no one's accused the Orthodox Jews of gay clergy pedophilia for this practice yet?

1 comment:

utenzi said...

Oh, gross! My ex-wife is Jewish so I have some background with Judiasm but I'd not known about the oral suction of the wound thing, ZP. Since you're half Jewish maybe you already knew of this. Ick!