New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to regulate and restrict the practice of
metzitza b’peh, a ritual used by some ultra-Orthodox Jews in circumcision, the
online New York Sun reported on Wednesday.
Metzitza b’peh is a practice
where in the mohel applies direct oral suction to the still-open circumcision
While the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
recognizes the health benefits of circumcision and does not seek to ban it, it
wants to enforce a requirement for a written waiver or consent from parents
before the metzitza b’peh part of the ritual can be done, according to the
Bloomberg rejected pleas from leaders of the Orthodox Jewish
community in New York – the Agudath Israel of America chairman, Rabbi Gedaliah
Weinberger, and its executive director, Rabbi Dovid Zwiebel – to cooperate and
consult with them on the practicing of metzitza b’peh, the Sun
The mayor’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, replied to
the pleas, quoting the US Supreme Court’s remark in a 1944 child labor case that
“the right to practice religion freely does not include the liberty to expose
the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill-health
or death,” according to the report.
In California, Gov. Jerry Brown
signed a bill in 2011 protecting circumcision after a failed attempt to outlaw
male circumcision in San Francisco.