New York’s Board of Health usually deals with topics like lead paint and tuberculosis, but this week is expected to draw heated arguments on two contentious subjects: a ban on large sugary drinks and the possibility of babies contracting herpes through a circumcision ritual.

On Monday, the 11-member panel is set to hear public comments on a proposal to require parental consent for circumcisions practiced by ultra-Orthodox Jews in which the mohel, or religious leader, sucks blood from the baby’s wound.

The city proposes requiring parents to provide written consent for a circumcision involving “direct oral suction.”

A Department of Health study found that this practice, called metzitzah b’peh, increases the risk of a herpes infection, which can be fatal for infants.

From November 2000 to December 2011, 11 babies were infected with herpes after Jewish ritual circumcisions, according to the study. Two died.

A coalition opposing the proposed rule says the city’s study was too small-scale to be statistically significant. The city hasn’t documented a direct link between a mohel and an infected infant through DNA fingerprinting. The group said the rule is an unwarranted government intrusion in a religious practice.

“We are fully convinced that it presents no danger,” said Rabbi David Niederman, a spokesman for the Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA

Source: The Wall Street Journal


  1. As a Frum Jewish man i have mixed feelings about this. Of course i don’t want the government to Ch”V ban this but something has to be done to protect these innocent babies.

    It is high time that the Mohel takes extra caution and is held to a higher standard. What is the big deal of having them tested? Who would be against every Mohel to have a certificate (updated every 6 months) that he is healthy?

    The government is only trying to protect us. Lets not fight them, lets join them

  2. This is how all the problems started when non-Jews starting mixing in to our business. We have been doing this since the world was created and we have pretty good odds.

    Try to find a cure for Aids and don’t waste your time with our issues. there are no issues!

  3. Rabbi Niderman, since when are you a doctor and know what is dangerous or not? stay out of things you don’t know about. Let the professionals decide and protect us.

    We are not in Hungary in 1932 right now, and if we have a chance to be safer and avoid sickness, more power to them


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