NYC Mayoral Candidates Tiptoe When Asked About Metzitzah B’peh


john-liuThe Forward has been reviewing the mayoral candidates stances on metzitzah b’peh and came to conclusion that only Rev. Erick Salgado and City Comptroller John Liu pledged to outright abolish the city’s regulation of the practice.

“For thousands of years, this has been a practice that has been observed by people,” Liu said. “As with most procedures, some risk is inherent. But I would certainly defer to the rabbis on this, as opposed to thinking that, well, we know better after thousands of years of this practice.”

In a meeting with an Orthodox Jewish crowd in Brooklyn that was posted online in March, Democratic candidate Bill Thompson was told by one of the attendees that any mayoral candidate who didn’t take a stand against regulation of MBP would be a candidate for whom people wouldn’t feel comfortable voting. In response, Thompson said, “The government needs to respect the religious beliefs of people.” Thompson added that he had heard there was no discussion between members of the Orthodox Jewish community and the city, and that he would be “absolutely willing to sit down and talk” about balancing safety and religious practice.

Another Democratic candidate, Erick Salgado, in a speech to the Rabbinical Alliance of America, called MBP “a practice that was commanded by God,” one that had been practiced “since God told Abraham to do so.”

Republican mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota, was reportedly quoted by The Forward as a supporter of the regulation. Based on a video taken by Mr. Shimon Gifter, the Forward concluded that Mr. Lhota’s assessment that the signed consent forms was “a reasonable approach” to tell parents what the risks are, was an expression of supporting the regulation.

However, in a phone conversation with NYC Elects, Mr. Lhota claimed The Forward took his words out of context. Pointing to the video, in which he says he is opposed to the government regulation or banning religious practices or tradition. Mr. Lhota also said it was the first time he was asked about the issue, and that he intends to study it, meet with religious leaders in order to solve the issue.

“Look it requires education,” Mr. Lhota told Jewish students in April, according to the video posted. “Originally the mayor wanted to outright ban it. Now he wants you to sign a piece of paper that acknowledges that you understand it. That’s a reasonable approach. Banning it, no. It’s a reasonable approach to tell you what the risks are. If you understand the risk, and you sign that you understand the risk, than the burden is on you. That a good thing to do. Government shouldn’t tell people what to do, but direct you,” he said. Adding, “I Follow the issue. I have an enormous respect to religion, tradition and culture and all of that.”

Mr. Lhota’s challenger, John Catsimatidis, apparently supports the regulation. A representative for the campaign told the Forward that Catsimatidis “believes a mohel’s work should be regulated by the health department, just like a variety of other procedures are,” and that “we understand the religious implications, but there also has to be a balance with the health implications.”

When NYC Elects called the Catsimatidis campaign for a response, they were told Mr. Catsimatidis himself didn’t come clear on the issue yet.

In a statement provided to the Forward, Democratic front-runner Christine Quinn, said the use of signed consent forms to perform MBP “protects religious freedoms” and is the “right policy,” but that the city’s health department “must do a better job in the future with its outreach on sensitive issues in which public health and religious practices intersect.”

Bill de Blasio, said that while the city “has a solemn duty to protect the public health, and we will never compromise on that,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg “was wrong to simply dictate to a community on a matter of religious tradition.” De Blasio added that he would find a solution “that protects the health of newborns and allows freedom of religious practice.”

In a statement provided to the Forward, Sal Albanese said: “I think we’ve got to stop making this a good guy-bad guy issue. Everyone on both sides is trying to do what they think is best for the well-being of our kids. While I have my concerns, I’m open to bringing doctors and community members to the table to revisit the current policy.”

In a February interview with NYC Elects, Mr. Albanese said he would not override Mayor Bloomberg’s regulation on Metziztah B’peh if elected mayor, seeing it as a sole health issue reason. Hence, he would not be against looking it over.

Social Media candidate, Ceceilia Berkowitz didn’t even know what its all about, when asked at her campaign announcement.

Adolfo Carrion Jr. and George T. McDonald have not taken positions, according to The Forward.

{Source: Jacob Kornbluh-NYC Elects 2013}

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  1. when it comes down to it MBP will not be an issue – bloomberg did his research & worded the document to squeek by the courts so its setup to win – i heard blasio & i’m disappointed in his attack on stop & frisk – lost my vote