Orthodox Plan To Sue Over Circumcision Rite

Agudath Israel Objects to Metzitzah B'Peh Forms

By JTA

Published September 11, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Agudath Israel of America reportedly is planning to sue the city of New York if its health department passes a law requiring parental consent for the circumcision ritual known as metzitzah b’peh.

The New York Jewish Week reported the development based on an email forwarded to the news outlet sent originally from the account of Agudah’s general counsel, Mordechai Biser. According to the e-mail, the haredi Orthodox group is seeking a New York law firm that would work pro bono or on “a reduced rate basis” to bring “a lawsuit against the City of New York to prevent the City from issuing a regulation that would require written parental consent for an aspect of bris milah (‘metzitzah b’peh’).”

The city is expected to pass the measure this week requiring parents to sign off before the direct oral suction procedure. Metzitzah b’peh is not used in most Jewish circumcision ceremonies, but many in the haredi community still adhere to it. Haredi leaders have resisted calls to replace direct oral suction with the alternative approaches.

A statement by the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America on Monday noted that “Many Jewish legal authorities have ruled that direct oral suction is not an integral part of the circumcision ritual and advocate the use of a sterile tube to preclude any risk of infection.” Like Agudah, however, the RCA expressed opposition to the proposed measure, citing “concern about government regulation of religious practices.”

“There is no safe way to perform oral suction on any open wound in a newborn,” Samantha Levine, a spokeswoman for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, told The Jewish Week via e-mail Monday, citing leading medical authorities.

The health department’s vote represents the culmination of a year of debate surrounding the practice, which was sparked by the death of an infant in Brooklyn last September and the subsequent revelation that a mohel who performed the ritual on the infant had tested positive for herpes. In June, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley condemned the practice of direct oral suction.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.