HAARETZ, Tel Aviv, Tuesday, 14 December 2004.

Last Update: 14/12/2004 20:08

Rabbi ordered to pay NIS 1.18 million for botched circumcision

By Yuval Azoulay, Haaretz Correspondent

The Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court on Tuesday ordered the former rabbi of the Gan Yavneh local council to pay a child and his parents NIS 1.18 million in damages after the child was left severely disfigured when he was circumcised by the rabbi.

The rabbi, Mehumar Tzubari, performed the religious ceremony on the child in April 1995. A few hours after the ceremony, the mother realized that the tip of the child's penis was blacked and called the rabbi. He checked the area, applied iodine ointment and told the mother not to worry and that "everything will be fine."

After several days in the hospital, doctors diagnosed gangrene in the penis tip. The penis tip was lost, the penis became trapped within the skin enveloping it. Two years later, the infant underwent surgery at Schneider Children's Hospital to release the penis, replace the missing skin and give the penis a healthier appearance. The operation failed.

In August 2000, the infant was operated on in the United States by Dr. Gerald Jordan, a world renowned expert on reconstructive surgery. According to the child's parents, the operation failed to restore the penis to normal since the reconstructed tip does not enable an erection to be maintained during intercourse.

The parents filed suit against the rabbi, the Gan Yavneh religious council, the Gan Yavneh local council and the Religious Affairs Ministry. The deputy president of the Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court, Judge Dalia Gannot, rejected the suits against the public bodies, but found in favor of the suit against the rabbi.

During the trial, it emerged that Tzubari was not qualified to work as a mohel (the religious official who carries out a circumcision).

The judge ordered Tzubari to pay NIS 850,000 of the NIS 1.18 million in damages for the family's past and future suffering, and to compensate the parents for the cost of psychiatric treatment for their son.

(File created 15 December 2004)