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November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Metzitzah B’peh’

Satmar Getting Ready for Metzitah B’peh Court Fight

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

The Satmar Rebbe R. Aaron Teitelbaum instructed his followers to each give $100 towards legal cost of the Metzitzah B’peh (oral suction of the cut following the circumcision) lawsuit, Jacob Kornbluh tweeted.

The Satmar Live tweet confirms this, asserting (over several twets which we condense here) that “every Rosh Mishpucha (head of household) has to give $100 – Koifer Nefesh (lit=ransom, fig=atonement). The money will go for the legal cost of Metzitzeh B’Peh. For those who fast the price will be $72, which has to be paid till Y”T Shvies (Shavuot). Yoim HaTanis: This last Thursday of Shovevem Truma-Tetzaveh. L’Hikuhel V’Lamoid Al Nafshieny! (to gather and defend our souls).

Mind you, this entire uproar on the part of Satmar, complete with war images and fasting, is not over the banning of Metzitzah B’peh, rather it is about the mohel-ritual circumciser informing the parents of the procedure and having them sign a consent form.

The Mishnah (Shabbat 19:2) mentions two steps in the Bris Milah, following the actual circumcision: P’riah-the exposure of the crown and the severing of the membrane under the foreskin, and, Metzitzah-suction. The Gemorah teaches (Shab. 133b) that a “Mohel who does not suck, should be dismissed from practice.” Rashi explains that this step is in order to squeeze some blood from deep inside the wound to prevent danger to the baby.

Mordechai Halperin, writing for the OU Jewish Action (Winter 2006), explains: “Immediately after incising or injuring an artery, the arterial walls contract and obstruct, or at least reduce, the flow of blood. Since the arterioles of the orlah-foreskin branch off from the dorsal arteries (the arteries of the upper side of the organ), cutting away the foreskin can result in a temporary obstruction in these dorsal arteries. This temporary obstruction, caused by arterial muscle contraction, continues to develop into a more enduring blockage as the stationary blood begins to clot. The tragic result can be severe hypoxia (deprivation of the supply of blood and oxygen) of the glans penis.

However, this third procedure in the Bris Milah need not necessarily be done orally, with direct contact. Many mohalim have long since adopted Metzitzah with an instrument, which is just as effective.

Read also:

Consent Forms For Metzitzah B’Peh: Empowering Parents Or Interfering In Religious Practice?

In Defense of Parental Consent fo Metzitzah B’peh

NY Newborn Contracts Herpes after Metzitzah B’Peh

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

A newborn in New York who underwent his ritual circumcision rite is undergoing treatment for neonatal genital herpes, according to the Forward, contracted after metzitzah b’peh, in which the ritual circumciser places his mouth directly on the child’s circumcision wound to revive the shocked blood stream.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued a health alert about the baby’s case on Jan. 28. The baby was treated for the genital rash five days after his circumcision.

At least 11 boys contracted herpes between 2004 and 2011, according to New York City health officials. Two died from the disease and two others suffered brain damage.

In September 2013, the city’s Board of Health voted 9-0 to require mohels to obtain signed consent forms from parents; the Haredi Orthodox Jewish community opposes the forms. Several months earlier, the city had struck an agreement with city hospitals to distribute pamphlets about the ritual’s dangers to the mothers of newborns.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said shortly after taking office on Jan. 1 that he would leave the signed consent forms in place while looking for a more effective solution, according to the Forward. The Haredi Orthodox community had expected de Blasio to do away with the forms.

Questions for Joe Lhota

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

The Jewish Press recently asked New York City Republican mayoral nominee Joe Lhota, former chairman of the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority and deputy mayor for operations under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, to address issues that are of particular concern to the city’s Jewish community. The questions (and candidate’s replies) below are in addition to those posed to Lhota and his Republican primary opponents during a Jewish Press forum earlier in the campaign season. (That forum can be viewed at here.)

These same questions were sent to Bill de Blasio, the Democratic candidate for mayor. As of Monday afternoon, de Blasio had not responded.

The Jewish Press: As mayor, Rudolph Giuliani ejected Yasir Arafat from a Lincoln Center concert held in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. Many observers commented that Giuliani’s act was likely inspired by his support for Israel. Should pro-Israel New Yorkers care whether their mayor supports Israel?

Also, please share your views regarding Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest push for negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, and the threat a nuclear Iran poses to Israel and the rest of the world.

Joe Lhota: I am running to be mayor of New York and my primary concern is, first and foremost, keeping this city safe. The Jewish community in particular understands the need to live in a safe city, and how far we have come since the early 90s. Since 2001 the NYPD has thwarted 17 terrorist attacks, including the attempted bombings of Riverdale synagogues. That’s why I support Ray Kelly as NYPD commissioner and why we need to ensure the NYPD has the tools necessary to keep our city safe.

At the same time, being that our city is oft dubbed “the capital of the world” there is a role for the mayor to use his bully pulpit to speak on behalf of Israel, just like Rudy and Ed Koch have done in the past.

And as a Bronx boy I am not afraid to speak my mind in defense of Israel. Having experienced 9/11, I better understand what Israelis deal with as part of their daily existence, and any negotiations must support Israel’s security needs. And I strongly support the government and people of Israel in their search for a lasting peace.

Iran represents a threat not only to Israel but to the region and the Western world as well. Iranian-backed Hizbullah was responsible for the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994 and the civilized world must remain united in preventing a radical, nuclear Iran.

Last year, the New York City Commission on Human Rights decided to pursue a discrimination claim against several chassidic storeowners in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section over their posting of signs that stated, “No shorts, no barefoot, no sleeveless, no low-cut neckline allowed in this store.” The storeowners claim they are simply requesting a level of modesty for their stores; that the commission has overreached based on existing city law; and that other institutions, such as high-end restaurants and even courtrooms, impose dress codes but have not met scrutiny. What is your opinion on this matter?

One of New York’s defining characteristics is its diversity, its immigrants who came through Ellis Island and later [on], and how disparate groups have helped make this great city what it is – and the Orthodox and chassidic communities of Brooklyn are an essential part of that.

Having visited those stores, I gained an appreciation for their way of life and devotion to their traditions. We cannot discriminate in either direction and we must find a proper balance between religious and secular sensitivities. For example, one disappointment I have with the Bloomberg administration has been its refusal to allow religious groups to rent public school space during off hours and weekends. That is something I would do differently because it doesn’t violate separation of church and state and religious groups can put the schools to good use while raising revenue for the city.

Too often, crimes that would appear to be anti-Jewish hate crimes – especially Nazi-related vandalism – get labeled as something more benign and are treated as simple mischief. Do you think New York City’s existing hate crime laws are tough enough?

In Defense of Parental Consent for ‘Metzitzah B’peh’

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Imagine the following commonplace scenario: The parents of a newborn Jewish boy are looking for a mohel to perform a bris on their son, but do not know any personally. They ask around and receive a recommendation from a friend. They call the mohel, who agrees to perform the circumcision. On the appointed day, the mohel appears, performs the circumcision, and the parents make a donation to a charity of the mohel’s choice in lieu of payment.

Now imagine this: A week later, the child begins to develop lesions (sores or blisters) at the site of the circumcision. An investigation reveals the mohel performed the procedure known as metzitzah b’peh (MBP), direct oral suction of the incision. This practice is the subject of intense halachic dispute. Some hold it is an essential requirement of Jewish circumcision; others, that it is permitted but not required; and still others, such as Rav Chaim Soloveitchik (the Brisker Rav) and his son Rav Moshe Soloveitchik, that it is forbidden because of the risk of disease transmission. The parents, however, like the fourth son at the Seder, did not know to ask, because they, like many Jewish parents, had never heard of MBP. The lesions spread. Soon after, in the worst case scenario, the child dies.

The question: Should the mohel have explained the MBP procedure and told the parents he would be performing it as part of the bris, giving them the opportunity to choose not to have it done, whether for halachic or medical reasons?

Last year, after receiving complaints from parents that MBP had been performed as part of their child’s bris without their knowledge and consent, and after confirming eleven cases of herpes simplex virus (HSV) acquired by infants in New York City from MBP in recent years resulting in two deaths and two cases of permanent brain damage, the city passed a parental consent regulation to ensure that parents are the ones making the informed decision about whether MBP is performed on their child.

Agudah and groups affiliated with segments of Chabad and Satmar, as well as some individual mohelim, brought a federal lawsuit to challenge the regulation. The regulation at issue does not, in any way, limit the permissibility of MBP. The law only requires that, prior to the circumcision, the parent or legal guardian has to give written informed consent, which must include notice that “direct oral suction exposes the infant to the risk of transmission of herpes simplex virus infection and other infectious diseases.”

In this way, not only does it not infringe on the religious liberties of mohelim, it actually protects the religious liberties of parents by ensuring that they make the decision whether MBP – a religious act – is performed on their child.

As a matter of constitutional law, medical ethics and common sense, it is the parents – the individuals ultimately responsible for their child’s well-being – who must make fully informed decisions regarding their child’s healthcare and religious upbringing. As the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized, a parent’s rights in the care, custody, and control of his or her children is “perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests.”

I’m the lawyer representing major national medical organizations in the case. My clients include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, and the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Society of America. My clients felt compelled to get involved in the case because they are gravely concerned about the public health and public policy implications if the challenged regulation is blocked.

In many ways, I’m an unlikely advocate for the defense of the metzitzah b’peh regulation. I’m a constitutional litigator and Orthodox Jew who is a lot more accustomed to suing New York City than defending it. I’ve been involved in cases against the mayor, the City Council, the Department of Buildings, the NYPD, the Taxi & Limousine Commission, and other city and state agencies and officers.

And I’m a lot more accustomed to bringing religious liberties cases than defending them. Among other cases, I’ve represented dozens of members of Congress at the U.S. Supreme Court in the Zivotofsky passport case and my shul in Teaneck in an ongoing religious liberties lawsuit against the local zoning board under the First Amendment.

JPress Forum: Metzitzah B’peh, Vouchers, Weiner Charms the Crowd

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Appearing for the first time with all of his Democratic rivals on stage, Anthony Weiner sought to stand out, for the second time in a row, ahead of his competitors. At a Jewish Press mayoral forum in Manhattan Beach, Mr. Weiner claimed to be the first to oppose Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s regulation on the traditional practice of Metzitzah B’peh.

“I first spoke about Metzitzah B’peh when I ran in 2005,” Mr. Weiner said at the first forum on issues relating to the Orthodox Jewish community. “I was trying to get anyone possible to talk about it in the context of that campaign because, you know, this didn’t start last week,” he said. ”This has been going on for years now, that this battle has been going on, and for me it comes down to my values as someone who believes in the ethos of New York.”

Adding, “Part of that ethos of New York is we all come from different places, we bring different cultures, we bring different ideas, and we are never too far from our mother country. We try to bring those traditions here and that’s very, very important and part of the fundamental structure of the frum community.”

Mr. Weiner was quoted in the Jewish Forward during his first run for mayor, in 2005: “It is not the place of the Department of Health to be deciding on a religious practice. I am troubled, based on the facts of this case, about whether or not the city has overreached here.”

In comparison to Mr. Weiner walking around the issue, the remaining candidates directly addressed the issue at great concern to the frum community. Sal Albanese and Bill de Blasio promised to review the issue and discuss the matter with the rabbis and community leaders in order to find common ground. Speaker Christine Quinn defended the consent form requirement as a balance between religious freedom and public health concerns. John Liu and Rev. Erick Salgado were the only candidates to pledge to discontinue the city’s anti-Metztitzah B’peh regulations.

There are not many issues the Democratic mayoral hopefuls agree on, especially when they are seated at one table. However, on the one issue that is of great concern to the Jewish community, amid the high cost of tuition and transportation, all of the candidates held hands together in opposing school choice vouchers or tax credit relief.

At The Jewish Press forum in Manhattan Beach Wednesday evening, none of the viable candidates seeking to succeed Mayor Bloomberg expressed their support for some kind of relief to struggling parents who are not willing to enroll in the public school system.

In a previous conversation with this reporter, Republican mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota promised to fight hard for school choice vouchers if elected. “The mayor can use the bully pulpit to advocate in Albany for private schools,” he said. “It’s important that our children are properly educated. The role of the government and the role of the state is making sure they have the proper textbooks, making sure they are secure and making sure that they have transportation. The children that go to parochial schools and yeshivas are residents and the children of taxpayers in the city of New York, and they are not getting their fair share,” he asserted.

“On the issue of tax credits, I have been in favor of that. I have yet to find a way that it would cover the full tuition, but some form of a tax credit, to give relief to parents who pay for property tax as well and all the other taxes in New York, and are also paying tuition,” Mr. Lhota proclaimed.




Molestation Cases Must Be Handled by G’dolim, Not by ‘Experts’

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Note from the editor:

Rabbi William Handler is member of The Bris Milah Anti-Defamation League, which endorses metzitzah b’peh. He was also a supporter of Rabbi Yisroel Moshe Weingarten, convicted of molesting his daughter. I’m mentioning these two facts up front, so that they not become the topic of discussion by our readers. Rabbi Handler probably has very little in common with our Zionist, pro-Israel editorial policy, nor does he probably endorse our view that the Internet can be used sanely by educated religious Jews. Yet, when he sent us the following article for publication, I was struck by one important argument he is making which we, as a religious community, should debate:

Do we want the City and State child welfare authorities, as well as the City and State legal systems, to be automatically in charge of cases of child abuse in our community? Rabbi Handler says we don’t—and tries to argue in favor of turning to Gdolei Yisroel to supervise and even try these cases.

Personally, I don’t believe the author is making a successful argument, in light of the colossal failure of our religious leaders to respond, much less supervise and try, in one abuse case after another. But, those failures aside, is Rabbi Handler wrong in proposing that when we invite the secular authorities into our community, we’re doing this to our own detriment? Should we accept that our Gedolim simply will not measure up to this challenge?

We’d like to publish your views on this issue, which has been dividing our community.

I want to warn our Orthodox Jewish community of a new danger: the existence of a clique of pseudo-experts who are working among us in the field of “Criminal Molestation.”

These “experts”—self-styled “helping professionals”— are actively seeking-out people whom they believe to be “molesters,” with the goal of turning them over to the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

This is an enterprise fraught with the most serious dangers for our community.

Anyone can make an accusation of “molestation.” There are usually no witnesses.

So how can anyone determine whether the accusers are telling the truth or making the whole thing up?

Well, say the “experts,” we should assume that the accusation is true, because it’s highly improbable that anyone would make up such a grotesque story; and, in the unlikely event that someone did make up such a story, the “experts” in the district attorney’s office know how to question the accusers to make sure they aren’t lying.

Now, since the whole enterprise revolves around the ehrlichkeit (honesty) of the accusers and the honesty and skill of the district attorney, it is reasonable to ask a couple of poignant questions:

1. Is the accuser really telling the truth, or is he a skilled liar, who seeks to settle a score with the accused, gain custody of children in a divorce case, or just plain do harm to someone for any reason at all?

2. Do prosecutors always do their job properly; do they always seek justice?

Those of you who have followed the Sholom Rubashkin case closely, know that prosecutors don’t necessarily care about the truth—often, their actions are based on political considerations, or they just want to show another successful conviction on their resume, and they’re willing to get it by any means necessary, legitimate or otherwise.

Those of you who may have had the occasion to get entangled with NY City’s ACS/DCP (Administration for Children’s Services / Division of Child Protection) will understand what I mean when I speak of the dangers of getting entangled in a Kafkaesque government bureaucracy.

Perhaps your baby spilled some hot tea on his hand and got a serious burn. You call Hatzoloh, and the ambulance speeds your screaming child to the hospital emergency room. (NOTE: this is a true story, it happened exactly as I’m describing it)

Before your child is even treated for his condition, and while he is still screaming in pain, the emergency room staff will insist that you submit to an interview with a social worker, who will try to determine whether you were guilty of child neglect.

This procedure is mandated by City law. As “mandated reporters,” emergency room staff are required to report any suspicious indications of child neglect or abuse (as are other government licensed professionals, like psychiatrists and doctors).

Few Mayoral Candidates Stand Up to Chassidim on ‘Metzitzah B’peh’

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

When it comes to the mayoral candidates’ stances on the controversial Jewish circumcision practice known as metzitzah b’peh, Rev. Erick Salgado and City Comptroller John Liu pledged to outright abolish the city’s regulation of the practice, The Forward reported.

“For thousands of years, this has been a practice that has been observed by people,” Liu said. “As with most procedures, some risk is inherent. But I would certainly defer to the rabbis on this, as opposed to thinking that, well, we know better after thousands of years of this practice.”

The metzitzah, translated as suction, is one of the steps involved in the circumcision rite, and is intended to renew blood flaw in the traumatized organ. But in recent years several babies became sick and at least two died, and it has been strongly suggested that the culprits in those cases were ritual circumcisers suffering from herpes simplex – and the NY City Dept. of Health is seeking to curb the practice, if not through legislation then through education.

In a meeting with an Orthodox Jewish crowd in Brooklyn that was posted online in March, Democratic candidate Bill Thompson was told by one of the attendees that any mayoral candidate who didn’t take a stand against regulation of MBP would be a candidate for whom people wouldn’t feel comfortable voting. In response, Thompson said, “The government needs to respect the religious beliefs of people.”

Thompson added that he had heard there was no discussion between members of the Orthodox Jewish community and the city, and that he would be “absolutely willing to sit down and talk” about balancing safety and religious practice.

Another Democratic candidate, Erick Salgado, in a speech to the Rabbinical Alliance of America, called MBP “a practice that was commanded by God,” one that had been practiced “since God told Abraham to do so.”

Republican mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota, was reportedly quoted by The Forward as a supporter of the regulation. Based on a video taken by Photo Journalist Shimon Gifter, the Forward concluded that Mr. Lhota’s assessment that the signed consent forms was “a reasonable approach” to tell parents what the risks are, was an expression of supporting the regulation.

However, in a phone conversation with this reporter, Mr. Lhota claimed The Forward took his words out of context. Pointing to the video, in which he says he is opposed to the government regulation or banning religious practices or tradition. Mr. Lhota also said it was the first time he was asked about the issue, and that he intended to study it, and meet with religious leaders in order to solve the issue.

“Look, it requires education,” Mr. Lhota told Jewish students in April, according to the video posted. “Originally the mayor wanted to outright ban it. Now he wants you to sign a piece of paper that acknowledges that you understand it. That’s a reasonable approach. Banning it, no. It’s a reasonable approach to tell you what the risks are. If you understand the risk, and you sign that you understand the risk, then the burden is on you. That a good thing to do. Government shouldn’t tell people what to do, but direct you,” he said. Adding, “I Follow the issue. I have an enormous respect to religion, tradition and culture and all of that.”

Mr. Lhota’s Republican challenger, John Catsimatidis, apparently supports the regulation. A representative for the campaign told the Forward that Catsimatidis “believes a mohel’s work should be regulated by the health department, just like a variety of other procedures are,” and that “we understand the religious implications, but there also has to be a balance with the health implications.”

When this reporter called the Catsimatidis campaign for a response, we were told that Mr. Catsimatidis himself didn’t come clear on the issue yet.

In a statement to the Forward, Democratic front-runner Christine Quinn said the use of signed consent forms to perform MBP “protects religious freedoms” and is the “right policy,” but that the city’s health department “must do a better job in the future with its outreach on sensitive issues in which public health and religious practices intersect.”

Democrat Bill de Blasio said that while the city “has a solemn duty to protect the public health, and we will never compromise on that.” He added that Mayor Michael Bloomberg “was wrong to simply dictate to a community on a matter of religious tradition.” De Blasio added that he would find a solution “that protects the health of newborns and allows freedom of religious practice.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/few-mayoral-candidates-stands-up-to-hasidim-on-metzitzah-bpeh/2013/05/05/

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