New York mohel apparently tested positive for herpes

A New York mohel who performed the circumcision of one newborn who died of herpes and three other infants who contracted the disease apparently tested positive for herpes, the New York Jewish Week reported.

Yitzchok Fischer, who was ordered in 2007 to stop the circumcision ritual of metzitzah b’peh, in which the mohel orally suctions blood from the circumcision wound, refused to submit to a DNA test to determine if he is a match to the viruses found in the babies.

The Jewish Week reported April 6 that a copy of the 2007 New York State Department of Health order obtained by the newspaper through a Freedom of Information Law request said he tested positive for an infection that he was “capable of communicating to others.”

To protect Fischer’s privacy, as required by law, the order does not specifically mention herpes. But according to the newspaper, “both the context of the order and the facts surrounding Fischer’s case strongly suggest that the infection for which, according to the order, he tested positive is herpes.”

The city health department has issued a warning against the practice. Haredi Orthodox leaders condemned the warning as an unnecessary and unwelcome government intrusion into their community’s religious practices. — jta