Councilmen Vow To Join Suit on Circumcision Rite

Brooklyn Lawmakers Blast Health Board Decision on Metzitzah B'Peh

By Seth Berkman

Published September 14, 2012.
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Two New York City councilmen have announced that they would be active participants in any lawsuit against the city of New York, after the board of health yesterday approved a measure that required parents to sign a consent form before allowing a mohel to perform a controversial circumcision ritual.

Councilmen David Greenfield and Lewis Fidler said the decision regarding metztizah b’peh, in which a mohel orally sucks blood from an infant, infringes on religious freedoms. The Central Rabbinical Congress also called the decision “unconstitutional.”

“I really think this is a real invasion into people’s religious freedom,” Fidler said Friday morning. “It lacks a sufficient basis and justification. The evidence here supporting this decision is just not strong enough.”

Fidler also said that the regulations would be “next to impossible to enforce,” and that the ultra-Orthodox community’s efforts to work together with the mayor’s office “fell on deaf ears.”

Earlier in the week, Agudath Israel of America, an Orthodox umbrella group, said it would also sue the city if the regulation passed. Fidler noted that he has already spoken to Chaskel Bennett, a member of the Aguda’s board of trustees, as well as two unnamed organizations, one that “professes to represent mohels,” and another that represents the Satmar community in Williamsburg.


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