The board voted 9-0 Thursday to require that anyone performing the ritual practiced by some ultra-Orthodox Jews obtain written consent from a parent or guardian.
The parents will have to sign a form acknowledging that the city Health Department advises against the practice because of risks of herpes and other infections.
The Health Department says there have been 11 confirmed cases of herpes simplex since 2004 in newborn boys after circumcisions that likely involved direct oral suction. Two of the infants died.
Defenders of the practice said they will ignore the new rule.
Rabbi William Handler of Brooklyn said the circumcision ritual is 3,000 years old and is safe.
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Dov Hikind was not happy. The DOH’s ruling to require parents to give their “informed consent” for any bris involving metzitzah b’peh(oral suction) has left the Orthodox community stunned and hurt, said the Assemblyman, who represents the largest constituency of observant Jews.
Hikind and Simcha Felder issued the following as a joint statement:
“This attack isn’t just on metzitzah b’peh–a tradition practiced by most Orthodox Jews; it is an attack on Judaism as practiced for 3300 years. Telling parents that you require written consent from them before performing religious rites that the mayor finds objectionable thrusts the city deeper into a nanny-ocracy that has dubious implications. This is a deliberate insult to the intelligence and dignity of Orthodox Jews who live in this city. It is degrading. It is an attack upon the covenant that lies at the heart of our history and culture. Orthodox Jews have historically made it clear that they will practice their religion as they always have, regardless of any government’s attempt to interfere or degrade them.
“The sad implication is that this will dissuade some Jews altogether from performing ritual circumcisions. They will not enter the covenant. The mayor has allowed his personal agenda to impact the lives of these Jewish children forever. This is how he enters the New Jewish Year.”