Israel rabbinate backs Berlin rabbi over oral suction

By Zoe Winograd, April 24, 2013
Rabbinical Centre of Europe

Rabbinical Centre of Europe

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has written a letter in support of Berlin’s Chabad Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal, who has come under fire for including the practice of metzitah b’peh – direct oral suction of blood from the wound – in his son’s circumcision.

German blogger Christian Bahls has said he will launch a legal action against the rabbi for what he claimed was a breach of German law. Prosecutors are examining his claim.

The chairman of the division of circumcision, Harav Moshe Morsiano, wrote on behalf of the Rabbinate: “The Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel has always maintained that the mitzvah of milah – circumcision – is to be fulfilled in the manner approved by halachic authorities in all generations, including the incision to remove the foreskin and the act of using the mouth to remove the blood from the exposed glands.”

Rabbi Morsiano then explained the rabbinical reasons for the controversial practice.

The Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE), representing 700 rabbis, has also issued a statement of support.

The RCE said: “We the Rabbinical Centre of Europe hereby express our full support for Rabbi Teichtel and stand fully behind him... The Jews of Europe must have religious freedom. All Jewish leaders have the responsibility and obligation to stop any interference with any detail of Jewish practice.”

The statement also said that Rabbi Teichtal was given an approval by a mohel with 30 years’ experience who said the tradition was legal in both Jewish and German law.

Last updated: 4:59pm, April 24 2013