Oy vay, the mohel missed!

After a ritual circumcision goes awry, the infant's penis is reattached during eight hours of surgery.

By Jack Boulware
Published August 24, 2000 7:45PM (EDT)

Tragedy struck a poor baby boy in Israel four weeks ago, when a routine ritual circumcision went horribly wrong, causing a portion of the newborn's penis to be severed. The quick-thinking parents tossed the amputated part into a plastic bag filled with ice and rushed the penis and accompanying infant to the hospital in Afula, a northern city of 40,000. Two doctors spent eight hours delicately reattaching the organ.

This week, after the miracle of microsurgery, the penis is determined to be fully reunited with its owner, leaving media and religious leaders speculating as to how the highly unusual accident could have happened.

Apparently the ritual circumciser, or mohel, accidentally lopped off the penis below the corona while performing the circumcision. The child's parents refuse to give the mohel's name and have not filed a complaint. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Ha'emek Hospital nevertheless reported the incident to the Health Ministry, whose committee is prepared to investigate if necessary.

"Such a thing is extremely rare, but I have heard of one or two other cases here over the years," said Rabbi Yosef Weisberg, the ministry's national supervisor of ritual circumcisers. "Any mohel who does such a thing must be blind, have taken a drink or been pushed while performing the brith milah."

Israel boasts several hundred practicing mohelim throughout the country, Weisberg explained, but because there is no circumcision law, many of them are unlicensed.

Now that the baby has recovered from the accident, and is urinating normally once again, it is not known whether his parents will complain to the police or sue the mohel for damages. Said hospital spokesman Danny Brenner: "Maybe they received payment from the circumciser to keep quiet about the incident."

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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