Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Mohel Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer's state ordered herpes test now in: no public statement as to results


At 5:51 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

State gets rabbi's herpes test
(Original publication: February 16, 2005)

The state Health Department has received the herpes test results of a Monsey rabbi suspected of passing on the virus to infants during a circumcision ritual.

State health officials subpoenaed the test results Friday, "but at this point in time, they're for internal use only," said Robert Kenney, a state Health Department spokesman.

Rockland County, Orange County and New York City health officials have prohibited Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, 66, from performing a portion of the ritual that entails sucking blood from the wound.

Three infants circumcised by Fischer, including one who died, had contracted herpes, according to the New York City Health Department.

Fischer's attorney, Mark Jay Kurzman of Pearl River, was upset yesterday that word of the subpoena had reached the media.

"I have no comment on what ought to be a confidential, discreet governmental investigation," Kurzman said.

He also would not comment on a court session scheduled for today regarding the prohibition against Fischer's performing the full circumcision ritual.

Gabriel Taussig, chief of the administrative law division of the New York City Law Department, confirmed yesterday that the city had complied with the subpoena but declined to discuss the test results.

Taussig said today's court session in Manhattan was to be a conference among all the parties. The city is seeking a preliminary injunction that would prohibit Fischer from performing the full ritual until the case is resolved.

The ritual, which involves the sucking of blood, is predominantly used by Hasidic Jews.

The circumcisions by Fischer drew the attention of public health officials after a Manhattan newborn died of herpes in November, and his twin was diagnosed with the virus, about two weeks after their circumcisions. A third infant, from Staten Island, also was diagnosed soon after his bris.

County health departments do not regulate the religious ritual.

Send e-mail to James Walsh

At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Monsey, and have heard alot of talk about Rabbi Fischer in the last few days. The behind the scenes story is a) that Rabbi Fischer took a Herpes test at a Monsey physician's office, and he passed. He does not have Herpes. This was known by the NYC Health Dept., but they refused to accept the results, and demanded that he take a test with them, by them. For obvious reasons, he didn't want to. he didn't want to open himself up to manipulation by people with an agenda. b) A nurse in the hospital at which the twins were born was deathly ill, and was working in the pediatric dept. at the time. The nurse has since died. It is possible that the nurse infected the twins. It is also possible that the mother had/has Herpes and transmitted it to the children. c) Rabbi Fischer's attorney will be releasing a press release in the next day or so confirming that he passed the test.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

I have heard through my contacts similar stories.

I would note several things:
1) The reason this became public was because Rabbi Fischer would not voluntarily follow the Health department's orders while they investigated. Due to this they had to get a court order.

2) Rabbi Fischer refused to make available to the Health Department his blood test results. They had to go to court to subpoena the results.

3) Rabbi Fischer refused to make public his blood test to the media.

4) In my evaluation, the Health Department was too tolerant of Rabbi Fischer's non-cooperation in an investigation of the death of an infant.

5) This whole episode demonstrates why mohels need to be regulated.

At 5:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am have spoken with people personally involved in this case.

When Rabbi Fischer checked the twins several days before the bris, he noticed a very strange rash on one of the baby twins, and told the parents that he would not do with bris until the baby was seen by a Pediatrician. The parents took the baby to the Pediatrician who gave the OK regarding the baby's health and to go ahead with the bris. I spoke with a physician who told me that it is entirely possible that the rash indicated that the baby (and most likely the twin brother) was already exposed to infection/herpes before Rabbi Fischer ever saw the baby.

If this is true, the health department should be focusing on how those babies got herpes (if not from Rabbi Fischer) and why the Pediatrician did not properly diagnose a potentially deadly rash.

At 11:51 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>the health department should be
>focusing on how those babies got
>herpes (if not from Rabbi
>Fischer) and why the
>Pediatrician did not properly
>diagnose a potentially deadly

Which is exactly what is going on behind the scenes with the investigation (although I cannot confirm your story).

A proper investigation does not ignore any individuals/possibilities by focusing solely on one suspect to the exclusion of other possibilities.

The reason Rabbi Fischer has been focused on in the press is due to the circumstances surrounding his conduct DURING the investigation (see previous comment) which has not been helpful.

At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Enigma_4U said...

Why is there such community resistance to the Board of Health's involvement in this case? Our community should welcome some kind of regulation which will protect both baby and mohel from needless harm from this outdated and primitive practice which is not even halakhically mandated.


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