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Report: N.Y. mohel apparently tested postive for herpes

JTA

April 9, 2012 | 8:17 am

Photo by DRosenbach/Wikipedia

Photo by DRosenbach/Wikipedia

A New York mohel tied to the death from herpes of one newborn and to three others who contracted the disease, apparently tested positive for herpes, The 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, however, 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 Health Department order obtained by the newspaper through a Freedom of Information Law request said that he tested positive for an infection that he was “capable of communicating to others.”

The order was redacted by the department to protect Fischer’s privacy, as required by law, and does not specifically mention herpes. But, according to reporter Hella Winston, “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 order also describes the investigation carried out by the city Health Department in the wake of three infections linked to Fischer in 2003 and 2004, The Jewish Week reported.

Several weeks ago, The Jewish Week obtained a tape recording indicating that Fischer may have continued to perform metzitzah b’peh after the order to desist was issued, according to the newspaper. When asked several weeks ago whether the state department of health would investigate Fischer in connection with a possible violation of the 2007 order, Mike Moran, a spokesman for the department, would not comment.

The New York City Health Department has issued a warning against the practice. Haredi leaders condemned the warning as an unnecessary and unwelcome government intrusion into their community’s religious practices.

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