web analytics
September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » News & Views » US »

Orthodox Leaders Fear Precedent Of Gov’t Intervention On Bris Rite

Ceremonial Pillow Used At A Bris Milah

Ceremonial Pillow Used At A Bris Milah

The New York City Board of Health was scheduled to vote this Thursday (two days after this issue went to press) on a measure requiring parents to sign a consent waiver before allowing a mohel to perform metzitzah b’peh, or oral suctioning, on their infants.

The proposal has created a firestorm in the Orthodox community. While some see the proposal as the first step toward an outright ban on metzitzah b’peh, others are simply leery of attempts by City Hall to legislate religious practices.

The proposed waiver reportedly is the result of a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found that since 2000, eleven newborns contracted the herpes simplex virus after the metzitzah b’peh was performed on them. Two of the infants cited in the report suffered brain damage while two others died.

In a statement released on June 6, the City of New York urged that the practice be discontinued entirely and city-owned hospitals began distributing a booklet advising parents about the potential health risks of metzitzah b’peh.

The booklet, titled “Before the Bris, How to Protect Your Baby Against Infection,” details a direct link between oral suctioning by a mohel infected with herpes and both infection and death associated with herpes simplex type one virus (HSV-1); it warns parents that there is no proof that any precautions taken by a mohel to prevent transmission of the disease can reduce the risk of infection and counsels parents to ask their mohel if he performs metzitzah b’peh.

Under the proposed regulations, mohels would be required to distribute consent forms to parents and to keep those waivers for a minimum of one year. The precise wording of the form, which would warn of the potential risks, would be drafted by health officials, not rabbis.

An earlier challenge to metzitzah b’peh on the state level was resolved in 2006 when the New York State Department of Health issued an official protocol for the practice of oral suctioning, developed in conjunction by a team of doctors and rabbis. New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Antonia C. Novella praised the rabbis involved in the process for their cooperation, saying the meetings gave her a better understanding of the importance of metzitzah b’peh and that she was confident the newly developed protocols would respect tradition while still protecting the health of the public.

It is precisely the lack of rabbinical involvement in the proposed regulations that Rabbi Moshe Chaim Friedman of NYmohel.com finds unsettling.

“The problem with the way this is being done is that the city is not engaging in a dialogue with the people that this affects: the rabbonim, those involved in bris milah,” said Rabbi Friedman.

“What was done in 2006 was negotiated with a proper dialogue and was done in a mutually beneficial fashion. This isn’t being discussed with anyone. They are just ramming it down the collective throats of the Orthodox community. Our common goal is the safety of our children, so why mandate this instead of working with us?”

He said another concern was that “the controversy has scared away irreligious people from having a bris altogether, no question about it. They have been led to believe that the rabbi performing the ritual harms babies.”

“This isn’t about defending metzitzah b’peh,” he added. “This is about defending our right to freedom of religion.”

Rabbi Friedman said that regulating any part of bris milah is a dangerous precedent.

“I see this as the beginning of the end. Once they insert themselves into religious practices there is no limit to what they can mandate.”

“We need to protest this vociferously,” added one prominent Brooklyn posek, who asked that his name not be used.

“It is dangerous for the Jewish community to let this go by unchallenged. The moment they have a foot in the door to say anything about religious practice, we face the risk of serious problems.”

Rabbi Romi Cohn, a member of the American Board of Ritual Circumcision, a rabbinic board that has been regulating the practice of bris milah for over 50 years, called the proposed regulations a blood libel.

“Two children died in a twelve-year period,” said Rabbi Cohn. “Mayor Bloomberg says he wants to protect Jewish children from getting hurt? If he is really concerned about the welfare of children, perhaps he should look at New York City hospitals that are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health. Significantly more children have died of staph infections they contracted at New York hospitals than have ever died as a result of a bris milah.

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 “Orthodox Leaders Fear Precedent Of Gov’t Intervention On Bris Rite”

  1. These Rabbis believe they are the best experts not only on Torah but also science.

    They have come out several times in conflict with the public interest, as when they.
    counsel to break the law and not immediately report child molesters even though impartial studies show most children do not fabricate these stories.

    Here there is not even a conflict with any law, only a custom, and different rabbis differ about this, yet one faction is exerting political pressure so parents don't give their written approval?

    Let's give parents notice that they need to pause and think for a minute. could my baby get sick this way?

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Drone Intercept Along Syrian Border 1
Israel Shoots Down Syrian Sukhoi-24 Fighter Plane Infiltrating Israeli Airspace
Latest News Stories
Submarine Tanin

Head of the Israeli Navy Ram Rothberg attends a memorial ceremony held at sea by Israeli sailors from the navy’s newest submarine, the INS Tanin. The ceremony was in memory of the personnel of the INS Dakar, which sank 435 km. off the coast of Haifa in 1968. September 21, 2014. 

Syrians on both sides of the civil war responded to Israel’s downing of a Syrian Sukhoi-24 fighter jet Tuesday morning.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks at a cabinet meeting.

PM Netanyahu: Israel fulfilled pledge to track down killers of the three yeshiva boys.

Knesset Speaker Elkin says Israel should hold Hamas terrorist bodies until IDF soldier bodies returned.

The IDF shot down a Syrian fighter plane that infiltrated Israeli air space with a Patriot missile.

The US and allies began bombing ISIS in Syria on Monday despite warnings from Russia and Iran. Washington informed Damascus.

Released for publication: The two Hamas terrorists who kidnapped and killed Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frankel, and Eyal Yifrach have been killed in an overnight security operation.

After 2 days of deliberation by a jury, following a 5 week trial, and 10 years of legal battles, Jordan’s Arab Bank has been found guilty of helping Hamas financially.

ISIS urged all Muslims to kill all non-Muslims, and referred to Kerry as an ‘uncircumcised old Geezer.’

The ISIS spokesman issued a statement that said the coalition led by the United States against ISIS was the “final campaign of the crusaders.”

British Muslims launch social media campaign against ISIS, called #NotInMyName.

A seniors’ tennis team from New York is going to a court of law to keep from playing a tournament on Shabbat.

The cease-fire does not mean Hamas can’t prepare to end it.

“How can you separate politics and health? The two go hand-in-hand.” – editor of Lancet medical journal.

7:30 pm From the Ginot Shomron CTU Commander: Official Announcement regarding the security incident in Ginot Shomron today: There was a reported sighting of a suspect in Ginot this afternoon. The suspect was most probably a teenager with a paintball rifle. There were no injuries, no arrests and there are no suspects. The entire incident […]

More Articles from Sandy Eller
A-Night-Out-logo

While we all go to restaurants for a good meal, it is dessert, that final taste that lingers in your mouth, that is the crown jewel of any dining experience and Six Thirteen’s offerings did not disappoint.

Eller-091214-Word

“When Frank does something he does it well and you don’t have to worry about dotting the i’s or crossing the t’s.”

Scan those sale circulars either online or when they show up at your doorstep, check out the sale items and plan your menus accordingly.

“We are strong chassidic women and we take the name, we embrace it, and we own it.”

“My father added that after all the pogroms, after the Holocaust, a member of the family had finally returned to the shul, proving once again that the indomitable spirit of the Jewish people can never be vanquished.”

In recent months I have found there are certain things not worth buying and with the help of everyone’s best friend, Google, recipes for some of them are literally at the tip of your fingers.

The chicken and waffle nuggets were fabulous and were like chicken in a dessert form.

The Open Kitchen is so appealing you practically want to eat the pages as you turn them.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/orthodox-leaders-fear-precedent-of-govt-intervention-on-bris-rite/2012/09/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: