Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews have been performing a circumcision rite for thousands of years that most people would find offensive. Rabbis have performed a simple procedure to cleanse the circumcision wound: they suck blood from the cut and spit it out like they are treating a snake bite! Once you get over the shock of an old, bearded man sucking on a baby’s penis, you realize that that the procedure, called “metzitzah b’peh,” also has serious health risks associated with it. Last year, in New York City, a baby died of an infection stemming from the procedure caused by herpes simplex type 1, a common virus in saliva that causes cold sores. This virus is harmless to adults, but can be fatal to infants.

I can understand the need to keep traditions, but let’s be reasonable. The procedure was meant to fight infection in a world where dust, bacteria, and viruses were a lot more prevalent. Today, if the Rabbi’s mouth is the dirtiest thing in the room, let’s keep it away from the baby’s penis for goodness’s sake. Besides, with modern day religious scandals, the Hasidic Jews don’t need this kind of heat. They don’t want to go out like the Catholic priests do they? Let’s forget the whole “metzitzah b’peh” thing an move on shall we.

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