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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lawsuit claims: Haredi Mohel Botches Bris

A Squirrel Hill rabbi botched a ritual circumcision, causing a “life-changing injury” to an 8-day-old boy, the parents of the child claim in a civil lawsuit filed this week.

Pittsburgh attorney Neil Rosen, who represents the mother, father and child identified only by their initials in the seven-page complaint, called the incident “unimaginable,” but declined further comment. Rosen said he used his client's initials to protect the identity of the child, now 8 months old.

The lawsuit filed Monday claims Rabbi Mordechai Rosenberg, 54, performed a Jewish ritual circumcision on the boy on April 28, 2013, eight days after the child was born as required by Jewish custom.

Rosenberg, a mohel — or ritual circumciser — referred calls to his attorneys at Weber Gallagher Group, who did not immediately return calls.

Although the suit does not specify the child's injuries, it claims Rosenberg acted “with a total disregard” for the child and “caused a catastrophic and life-changing injury.”

Additionally, the injury occurred in the presence of his parents, “who witnessed the entire gruesome and torturous event” and rushed their son to UPMC Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville for emergency reconstructive surgery and leech therapy, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit doesn't specify what the nature of the leech therapy was. The baby required several follow-up visits.

Rosenberg's website says he apprenticed under the late Rabbi Benjamin Nadoff in Pittsburgh, was trained by Rabbi Yosef Dovid Weisberg, the chief mohel of Jerusalem, and is recognized as a certified mohel by the American Board of Ritual Circumcision in New York.

Mohels are not certified by a government agency because the circumcision is considered a religious ceremony, not a medical procedure, according to Philadelphia-area mohel Mark Kushner.

Kushner said most of the community mohel certifying boards shut down because they had been named in lawsuits. He was not sure how new mohels become certified.

“I'm guessing it's a free-for-all, but I don't know,” he said.

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