On 28 April 2013, Rabbi Mordechai Rosenberg botched a circumcision of a newborn baby causing a "catastrophic and life-changing injury". Rosenberg, an orthodox mohel acted "with a total disregard" for the child, alleges the civil lawsuit brought by the parents.
The baby was rushed to a Children's Hospital for "emergency reconstructive surgery and leech therapy," according to the lawsuit. Leeches help the body accept reattached parts by promoting blood flow and tissue regeneration. The infant required several follow-up visits to the hospital.
Neil R. Rosen, an attorney for the parents said Rosenberg severed the organ and that the boy's grandfather, himself a doctor, immediately called Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and alerted them to assemble a reconstructive surgery team. Mr. Rosen said the baby's entire blood supply had to be replaced via transfusion.
A court filing by Rosenberg's attorney acknowledged the injury but denied negligence. "Rabbi Rosenberg performed the bris milah in a careful and competent fashion, with the care and skill normally exercised by Mohels under the same or similar circumstances," it said.
In his answer, which was filed Jan. 6, 2014, Rosenberg denied most of the allegations contained in the complaint, including that he “acted with negligence, carelessness and/or recklessness” in causing the injury to the baby; that he failed “to exercise appropriate caution when using the instruments necessary to perform a Bris Milah”; and that he chose “to employ a technique that placed the Bris Milah instruments in a position wherein they were capable of causing serious injury” to the baby.
Rosenberg also denied that he suffered from an impairment that he “knew or should have known would have prevented him from being capable of safely performing the Bris Milah.”
Rabbi Rosenberg continues to be recognized by the American Board of Ritual Circumcision, according to its chairman, Rabbi Romi Cohn of New York City. He said it is "very, very seldom" that such injuries occur and that a certified mohel needs to undergo extensive training, an examination and perform three circumcisions in the presence of board members.
Though Rosenberg's website says that he has been certified by the American Board of Ritual Circumcision in New York as a mohel, he does not appear to be a physician. Mohels are not usually certified by the government because circumcision is considered a religious ceremony rather than a medical procedure. Rosenberg's website continues to advertise his services. It says he has been performing circumcisions since 1990 and was trained and certified by Israel's supervisor of mohels.
The Pennsylvania Board of Medicine has the authority to investigate, sanction or revoke the license of a health-care professional for negligence in the performance of any medical procedure, including circumcision. It can also investigate those performing medical care without a license and refer a case to prosecuting authorities. But with a rite such as circumcision, "you have to balance religious freedom protections against public health and safety," said Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman.
- Religious circumcisions not subject to Pennsylvania oversight, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2014-01-26. Retrieved 2019-09-14.
- Rosenberg denies allegations contained in bris lawsuit, Pittburgh Jewish Chronicle, 2014-01-15. Retrieved 2019-09-14.
- Rabbi Mordechai Rosenberg’s Circumcision Failure Leads To Lawsuit: Botched Bris Caused ‘Catastrophic’ Injuruy, HuffPost, 2013-12-20. Retrieved 2019-09-14.
- Official website. Retrieved 14 September 2019.