Child advocates protest circumcision by teenager

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JERUSALEM — The National Council for the Child has protested to the Health and Religious Affairs ministries after a 13-year-old boy performed a ritual circumcision on a baby.

The incident, reported in a newspaper this week, involved the son of Ruth and Mati Hagari, who was born two weeks ago along with his twin sister. Otniel Sharabi, an experienced mohel (ritual circimciser) and friend of the baby's father, was to perform the brit mila, but his 13-year-old son Yishai did the circumcision after prior agreement between the two fathers. Otniel Sharabi served as the godfather and supervised the ritual. The mother had not been told of the switch.

The circumcision was carried out without incident, and the baby reportedly didn't even cry. Yishai, who had watched his father perform many circumcisions but had never done one solo, visited the baby at home the next day.

The Religious Affairs Ministry said later that a child may perform a circumcision if his mohel father is at is side.

"This profession passes from father to son, and there are no courses," said the spokesman. "One must receive a license from the rabbinate in order to perform a brit milah, but a father may authorize his son to do it."

National Council for the Child director-general Yitzhak Kadman, in letters to Health Ministry medical services director Dr. Yitzhak Berlovich and Religious Affairs Ministry director-general Dr. Asher Segev, said he was "very worried" about this phenomenon.

"As far as we know, a circumcision is a surgical procedure involving risks, and it should be done by an authorized and adult person. Although the law does not restrict it only to medical personnel, your offices were supposed to set guidelines for supervision and licensing of mohelim."

The only comment available from Berlovich was: "Anyone who regards himself as having been harmed may complain to the police."