Ritual Circumciser Slices Off Baby’s Penis

When a Jewish circumcision makes the news or stirs discussion, it’s usually a metzitzah b’peh, wherein

mohels, after cutting away the child’s foreskin and tearing the membrane with their fingernailsplace their mouths on the boy’s penis to suck away the blood.

Metzitzah b’pehs are responsible for at least a dozen cases of herpes transmission — and two child deaths — in the U.S. alone.

But there are other risks to ritual circumcision, as the parents of a Pittsburgh infant found out. They are suing their mohel, Rabbi Mordechai Rosenberg, because he accidentally amputated their son’s penis.

A local rabbi is being sued after allegedly botching a bris, the traditional Jewish circumcision ritual, and severing a newborn boy’s penis.

The incident detailed in the lawsuit happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill within the last year.

The Jewish circumcision ceremony was performed by Pittsburgh Rabbi Mordechai Rosenberg – who is also a mohel.

Sometime during the bris, according to the lawsuit, Rosenberg severed the baby boy’s penis.

According to CBS Pittsburgh, the body part was reattached during an eight-hour surgery requiring six blood transfusions, and the boy was hospitalized for two months.

It probably won’t be known for years whether all is right with his genitalia, and whether his sexual functions survived unscathed. A certain amount of permanent nerve damage is highly possible.

On his website, Rabbi Rosenberg says he is recognized as a “certified mohel by the American Board of Ritual Circumcision.” His site also says “a doctor’s medical circumcision, usually performed in the hospital, is not considered valid according to Jewish law.”

Remarkably, absent any regulated standard for training or certification of ritual circumcisers, Rosenberg continues to perform the procedure.

[file photo via thefastertimes.com]

Iceland Halts Road Project to Protect Elves

Icelandic authorities have decided to halt a highway project out of concern that the new road will displace the local elf population.

Says the Independent:

Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project because it might disturb the creatures’ habitat.

The activists are particularly concerned about an elf church that sits on the potential site. … [T]he project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on a case brought by a group known as Friends of Lava.

The activists cite a cultural and environmental impact – including the plight of the elves – as a reason for regularly gathering hundreds of people to block workers from bulldozing the area.

I have to believe that the whole thing is a wind-up, a national running joke, a tongue-in-cheek folkloristic game played on outsiders.

Or not. When asked in a 2007 survey, 62 percent of Icelanders said they thought it was at least possible that the so-called Huldufólk (“hidden folk”) are real.

The best little Huldufólk nugget I found is this one, on Wikipedia:

Icelandic gardens often feature tiny wooden álfhól (elf houses) for elves/hidden people to live in. Some Icelanders have also built tiny churches to convert elves to Christianity.

Gnome more of this folly! In the interest of spreading rationality among the Icelandic elf community, I propose we finance itty-bitty libraries and stock them with teensy copies of Dawkins’ and Harris’s books. Who’s with me?