web analytics
April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


The Metzitzah B’Peh Controversy

Anyone who reads the text of the New York City Department of Health’s proposed rule regarding metzitzah b’peh will immediately notice that two fundamental concerns have been virtually ignored in all of the public debate over the measure.

Certainly there have been very public arguments over the propriety or impropriety of governmental regulation of a religious practice and over the evidence or lack of same linking the procedure to herpes. And there are many who have raised the “slippery slope” concern that regulating an adjunct of bris milah will inevitably lead to further restrictions on the core practice itself, even though the DOH proposal would only require that parents be made aware of the risks associated with the practice in order to be able to make an informed consent. But therein lies the rub.

In pertinent part, the proposed new rule provides as follows:

Consent for direct oral suction as part of a circumcision.(a) Direct oral suction means contact between the mouth of a person performing circumcision and the infant’s circumcised penis.

(b) Written informed consent required. A person may not perform a circumcision that involves direct oral suction on a child under one year of age without obtaining, prior to the circumcision, the written informed consent of a parent or legal guardian of the child who is being circumcised in a form approved or provided by the Department. The written informed consent must include notice that direct oral suction exposes the infant to the risk of transmission of herpes simplex virus infection and other infectious diseases.

(C) Retention of consent forms. The person performing the circumcision must give the parent or legal guardian a copy of the signed consent form and retain the original for one year from the date of the circumcision, making it available for inspection if requested by the Department.

For one thing, we do not know the language the actual consent form will contain. Indeed, after the adoption of the general rule, it would seem the DOH will have open-ended authority to come up with descriptions of the alleged risks and its choices will not be subjected to standard limitations on rule-making authority. The possibilities are enormous if not endless. This is especially problematic since the rule is not limited to the risk of transmission of the herpes virus but to “other infectious diseases” as well.

Also of great concern is the possibility of child-abuse charges being leveled against the mohel or parents should metzitzah b’peh be performed and, God forbid, one of the diseases described in the consent form is thought to have resulted. Indeed, there have been reports that the Brooklyn district attorney is looking into bringing criminal charges in a case where a child who underwent metzitzah b’peh died.

And it just seems incongruous that parents will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they are knowingly placing their child in harm’s way.

Moreover, what we have here is a government regulation that will declare – with unknown particulars – that a time-honored Jewish religious practice, albeit one not universally accepted and employed by all observant Jews, risks the health and well-being of newborns. This is never a good thing for Jews, particularly so today, as witness the outbreak of challenges to circumcision and schechita in a number of countries.

It is crucial that our community stand up in defense of our traditions. In this connection we are still uncomfortable with the election to the New York City Council three years ago of a Jewish candidate who never fully apologized for publicly describing bris milah as “the ritual violence of circumcision.” The Jewish Press at the time forcefully condemned the comments of that candidate, who ran in a majority Jewish district with the fulsome support of an elected official well known for his advocacy of Jewish causes.

Effective free passes like that are not helpful no matter who bestows them.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “The Metzitzah B’Peh Controversy”

  1. U want jews to stand up and defend their traditions? Well this is one warped and deranged tradition. REALLY PEOPLE STOP BEING RELIGIOUS IDIOTS and just start being religious people. It was tradition to torture and kill heretics a few hundreds years ago.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Faience amulets depicting images of Egyptian gods.
Egyptian Culture Rife in Israel ‘For Years’ After Exodus
Latest Indepth Stories

Indeed, some caucus members based their decision to stay away from Mr. Netanyahu’s speech on their contention that the Israeli leader had disrespected America’s first black president.

These are fundamental issues for Israel’s security and yet Mr. Abbas refuses even to acknowledge them as grist for negotiations.

Those seeking accounting, finance, business, healthcare, technology, etc., will often enter a specialized graduate degree “track” created by Lakewood’s Professional Career Services, in conjunction with local institutions of higher education, for our alumni.

We are grateful to Hashem that we have been privileged to institute this program and that over the years we have experienced tremendous siyata d’shmaya, with the program spreading throughout the world and its membership rapidly rising.

Indifference to the pain of the many singles should require us to have our heart, not head, examined

The rededication of the Hurva caused international hysteria.Arabs called the action a “provocation”

{Originally posted to author’s website, FirstOne Through} TRUST Trust is the bedrock of a functional relationship. It enables one party to rely on the other. A trust that includes both intention and capability permits a sharing of responsibility and workload. The relationship between US President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu started off badly and further […]

Jabotinsky said “Go To Hell” was a good retort to opponents of the Jewish people; fitting for Obama.

Obama pulled off one of US history’s greatest cons,twice fooling a gullible electorate and most Jews

While in Auschwitz I felt a tangible intensity. I could sense that I was in a place of sheer evil.

Obama needs to wake up. The real enemy is not Netanyahu but Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad,IS

My beliefs & actions have led to numerous death threats against me; my excommunication by my church

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

More Articles from Editorial Board

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

A worthy idea any way you look at it.

If nothing really changes in the hearts and minds of the Palestinians, is Israel obligated to provide them and its other adversaries launching pads for attacks?

The United States placed enormous pressure on Israel to relinquish its gains, which Prime Minister Ben-Gurion did with great reluctance.

The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.

Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.

Gone are the days when an anchorman sitting in a New York studio could, after sharing 22 minutes of carefully selected and edited news items, trumpet in stentorian tones, “And that’s the way it is.” No it wasn’t. It never was.

President Obama has frequently cautioned that Americans should take great care to avoid fomenting anti-Muslim passions in our reaction to the murderous activities regularly being perpetrated by terrorists in the name of Islam. One wonders why, though, he seems to have no concern with the potential for anti-Semitic fallout from his full-court press against Israeli […]

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-metzitzah-bpeh-controversy/2012/09/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: