SUNDAY TIMES - Jewish circumciser slapped with life ban after botched bris
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Sunday Times News By PERICLES ANETOS, 2015-11-29

Jewish circumciser slapped with life ban after botched bris


Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

The botched circumcision of a newborn boy has landed a senior Jewish religious practitioner with a lifetime ban.

The Beth Din, the Jewish religious court responsible for settling disputes, established a commission of inquiry after the baby's penis was partially amputated during what is commonly known as the bris.

As a result of the incident, the Johannesburg practitioner will not be allowed to conduct this procedure again and all mohelim - Jews trained to perform the covenant of circumcision - will have to be accredited and seek registration every two years.

The drastic sanction against the practitioner follows an investigation commissioned by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein and the Beth Din.

The inquiry was conducted by retired KwaZulu-Natal deputy judge president Phillip Levinsohn, specialist urologist Dr Michael Cohen and Rabbi Dr Pinchas Zekry.

The circumcision was performed last year and the commission's findings were announced this month.

The Beth Din said: "In 2014, a circumcision was performed that resulted in devastating and permanent injury to the baby."

No details were revealed of why this circumcision went wrong .

The Sunday Times was unable to establish how the baby is doing now and whether there have been surgical attempts to rectify the partial amputation of his penis.

The Beth Din said the " mohel will never be accredited to perform circumcisions".

It was found that the sacred duty of the bris was generally performed "carefully and compassionately" with due regard for the babies.

Goldstein said Jews had been circumcising their sons for almost 4000 years, since God first commanded Abraham to do so.

" [It] has a longer track record of proven safety than any other surgical procedure," he said.

"Jewish circumcisions have been done in South Africa for more than 175 years and this case is the first time that an injury of this severity has been reported."

The commission recommended that, among other things, the age and state of health of the practitioner be taken into account when deciding on accreditation.

The chief rabbi and the Beth Din fully accepted the findings and recommendations of the commission.

The changes recommended, Goldstein said, were about further improving the oversight of a system.

Prior to the release of the findings, the case triggered some online debate in the Jewish community. Some people felt it was necessary to identify the practitioner in question so as to alert parents.