NYC: Judge Maintains Stay on Metzitzah B’Peh Parental Consent Requirement


brisNew York – Once again, today, at a hearing regarding the implementation of mandatory parental consent for metzitzah b’peh, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York maintained a postponement of the requirement.

The hearing on this matter had previously been postponed due to Hurricane Sandy.

It has been several months since several Jewish organizations and three rabbis filed suit against the New York City Department of Health (DOH), seeking an injunction against regulations that would illegally inhibit and criticize a form of circumcision that has been safely practiced by Jewish people across the world for thousands of years.

Back in mid-October, Judge Buchwald first postponed the requirement.

The suit filed by the Jewish organizations had argued that the DOH is attempting to discourage metzitzah b’peh by requiring all mohalim to distribute a form stating that MBP can lead to serious health risks. That regulation, they said, violates both the rights to free speech and freedom of religion.

The suit argued that “the government cannot compel the transmission of messages that the speaker does not want to express-especially when the speaker is operating in an area of heightened First Amendment protection, such as a religious ritual.”

The lawsuit is supported by affidavits from experts in infectious diseases, epidemiology and statistical analysis that question the assessment and methodology of the DOH in forming its opinion about the safety of MBP.

Hurricane Sandy had caused a backlog of cases and the courts must tend to prior cases before commencing new hearings, so the injunction against the implementation of the rule was deferred.

The new regulations had first been expected to be implemented on Sunday, October 21. It was then temporarily postponed until November 14, and was postponed a third time until today, when a brief oral hearing took place.

Lawyers representing the City of New York again claimed without proof that metzitzah b’peh is a dangerous practice and must be controlled by the government.

The attorneys told Judge Buchwald that postponing the requirement of parental consent is endangering the health of New York City children.

Jewish organizations, including Agudas Yisroel, the Hisachdus Harabbonim and the

International Bris Association, were represented by Attorney Shay Dvoretzky, who specializes in appellate advocacy, complex motions in trial courts, and legal strategy. Dvoretzky presented legal documentation from experts to refute the City’s claims. He showed that there is absolutely no clear evidence that metzitzah b’peh has posed a danger to any children.

Dvoretzky pointed out that the City has been informed of almost 8 dozen other cases of neo-natal herpes, yet it has chosen to only focus on those children who underwent metzitzah b’peh.

An official ruling on this matter is expected to be issued in about 2-3 weeks.

{Noam Newscenter}


  1. We have to Daven.

    It’s so sad when some modern-day Helenists are so bent on trying to fight authentic Judaism. Yeh, yeh, they call it seperationalist.

  2. Reply to #3, the report I read in today’s Hamodia (p. 16) : “in an offhand remark, Michelle L. Goldberg-Cahn, the lead attorney for the City, confirmed what many have warned, that if allowed to stand, the consent form rule will be only the first step towards a total ban on MBP. In response to a question about such a total ban, Goldberg-Cahn acknowledged that the City ‘could conceivably consider doing that but meanwhile’ it is limiting itself to a signed consent form.”

  3. EJB,

    No it doesn’t. If parents hadn’t consented, they wouldn’t have hired the mohel. You can go sign your consent form every time you buy a can of soda

  4. I am currently studying for a degree in statistics focusing on the health sciences. I have read well over one hundred studies. I have never seen one more flawed so far. The fact that the CDC is putting its weight behind it gives rise to the suspicion that we are dealing with a strong underlying agenda that has nothing to do with a desire to save lives.

  5. To #3 EJB- No, the article does not confuse requiring parental consent with banning the practice. For the government to step in and obligate a mohel to tell parents something that a)is not at all backed up by scientific or empirical evidence and b) is based on a government hypothesis that ignores information and data to the contrary, pointing to other sources for the contracting of herpes and c) is therefore something that the mohel himself does not at all agree with; that is the first and very dangerous step in the slippery steep slope of the government getting a green light to get their foot in the door of regulating a religious practice. Next will r”l be the demand to prohibit metzizah b’peh altogether, or perhaps to demand that we stop doing bris milah on the eighth day due to some other unproven hypothesis for which they will find one or two unusual circumstances and blame it on that. Then there might be the calls for requiring milah to be performed by a doctor rather than a mohel. And next? r”l Banning it entirely, calling it “dangerous” and other names. It has been said that if you drop a frog into very hot water it will immediately sense the danger and jump out. But if the water is very slowly heated hotter and hotter, it would not notice until it was too late. We cannot allow even seemingly small, yet incremental government interference in any religious area. It would be one thing had the science and data backed up their “concern” over metzitzah b’peh..then we would have to ask a shayla from daas Torah as to what to do to prevent harm to children, and we would at least understand where the government is coming from. But to regulate without reasonable proof to their allegations and by deliberately IGNORING evidence that points to other possible sources for the children contracting herpes (even ignoring one child’s OWN mother who may have had a cold sore (aka herpes)at the time and since she was unaware of the danger cannot say for sure that she washed her hands thoroughly before changing the baby’s diaper)? We cannot allow this first step to happen.

  6. My prediction is that the law will stand in court but be overturned on appeal in the supreme court.

    It isn’t only Milah that I’m concerned about if this law stands.The precedent of government making laws that affect only religious ritual is a very dangerous precedent.Under the guise of “public welfare” the liberals will be able to curtail whatever religious practice they want.