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February 25, 2015 6:23 pm

NYC Removes Jewish Circumcision Regulation in Favor of Increased Health Checks

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A religious circumcision in a Synagogue (illustration). Photo: jspace.com.

A religious circumcision in a synagogue (illustration). Photo: jspace.com.

JNS.orgThe administration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is repealing a regulation established by former mayor Michael Bloomberg that requires mohels (Jewish ritual circumcisers) to get signed permission from parents before they can orally remove blood from an infant’s wound during a brit milah.

The practice, known as metzitzah b’peh, has been conducted for centuries. But in recent years in the U.S., it has been blamed for the spread of the herpes simplex virus, among infants. But New York City’s Department of Health has announced the removal of the signature requirement, explaining that ever since the requirement has been in place since 2012, the city has received only one such written permission notice from a mohel.

Instead, New York health officials said they now plan to increase health checkups among Orthodox Jewish males. If results show that a baby contracted herpes after a brit milah, and if DNA testing shows that the baby was specifically infected during the metzitzah b’peh ritual, the mohel will be banned from continuing the practice. A group of Jewish organizations and rabbis had previously sued New York City over the signature regulation, but agreed on these new terms as part of the settlement of the lawsuit, the New York Post reported.

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