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Jewish Groups Sue NYC Over Circumcision Regulation

October 12, 2012 5:25 pm 1 comment

Michael Bloomberg. Photo: wiki commons.

Jewish groups have sued New York City’s Board of Health to prevent it from enforcing a rule that would require written parental consent for oral suction in ritual circumcision.

New York wants to pass the new law out of concern over metzitzah b’peh, a practice among ultra-orthodox Jews in which the person performing the circumcision (mohel) removes blood from the wound with his mouth. Metzitzah b’peh has been linked to 11 cases of oral herpes and two deaths between 2000 and 2011, the city said.

“The city’s highest obligation is to protect its children,” said Dr. Thomas A. Farley, commissioner of New York’s health department, according to the New York Times.

The lawsuit filed by several rabbis and Jewish organizations such as Agudath Israel of America and the International Bris Association states that Jewish families have safely conducted the practice of circumcision and metzitzah b’peh for generations, and that the new law would be unconstitutional.

“Not only is the Department of Health wrong about metzitzah b’peh, it is trying to enforce its erroneous opinions on the people of New York City…By essentially starting a public intimidation campaign that forces private citizens to spread the government’s beliefs, they are shaking the core of our democracy. We believe the courts will stop this overzealous government overreach and keep them out of our speech and religion,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a spokesman for the groups suing the city.

1 Comment

  • Lawerence Kulak

    This is one of the most disgusting things I have read in a while and it makes me embarrassed. Here you have the City showing that it cares enough about Orthodox children to get involved in a religious practice and all the Haredim can do is thumb their nose back and tell them to mind their own business. Well perhaps if the Haredi Rabbis had cared as much as the Health Commissioner about the welfare of the children instead of the livelihoods of the Mohelim during the past twelve years after eleven children contracted Herpes during Metzitzah (with two of them dying and two brain damaged) then the City might not have gotten involved. As it is, they are stopping short of requiring that those performing Metzitzah be tested for herpes simplex which is what they should be doing. This is nothing else but pure arrogance and could very well constitute a violation of Jewish Law which mandates that even if there is a doubt about a threat to human life, all precaustions must be taken.

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