Rabbi Romi Cohn Testifies in Defense of Bris Milah


romi-cohnAt a hearing yesterday in Queens, New York City rabbonim and mohelim defended the practice of bris milah with metzitzah b’peh, refuting unproven claims that it is to be blamed for infecting infants with herpes.

The Department of Health has continued its war against metzitzah b’peh, claiming it has led to at least two cases of infant death in New York since 2000. The city wants to amend the health law to require mohelim to obtain written consent from parents indicating they are fully aware of the supposed risks involved in bris milah.

“I myself have performed 25,000 circumcisions, and, thank God, we have not had one single incident … our guidelines are, I think, much stricter than the medical profession,” said Rabbi Avrohom (Romi) Cohn, noted mohel and a Holocaust survivor who represented the American Board of Ritual Circumcision at the hearing.

Rabbi Cohn did say that there are some people who are not certified according to halachas masquerade as mohels in order to make money, sometimes as much as $500 to $1,000 per bris.

“This is completely forbidden, but unfortunately they are doing it,” Rabbi Cohn said. “These people don’t know what sterility means. They don’t know about infection. We try to tell parents that if they choose a circumciser, he should be board-certified.”

Mohelim argued the city’s proposed changes would infringe on their religious freedom, but city health officials are pushing back.

“The concept of informed consent puts more of the decision-making power and more of the information in the hands of the parents,” said Susan Blank, the assistant commissioner of the STD Control Program at the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“Being a mohel is a religious status…I cannot follow an outside authority,” said Rabbi Levi Heber, the director of the International Bris Association.

Rabbi Heber said that if the city enacted the proposed amendment, the mohalim would take legal action to stop it.

“If we feel that our religious freedom is being restricted, we have the right to challenge it in court … we are ready, if needed, to challenge this,” he said.

The Board of Health plans to reach a decision on the proposal in September.

{City and State NY with Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Rabbi Cohen is a Odom Godol in the truest sense of the words, a pure soul whose life exemplifies mesiras nefesh for Torah and kedusha and tahara. I don’t know of another man in Klal Yisrael whose words carry as much weight on the topic of Bris Milah.

  2. I was present at this hearing and this article has missed a prominent mohel from the Staten Island community, Mohel Rabbi Avrohom Rubin, who argued regarding requiring Mohelim to obtain a consent form regarding Bris Milah. “How many of you who send your children in a car with others, sign a consent form about the dangers of car accidents? Are consent forms required to take a flight on an airplane?” Surprisingly Not!!!! Since the health department doesn’t require consent forms in such cases that have much more potential fatal risk involved, it seems a little odd and suspicious that in this religious matter, they’re taking such an active roll. Rabbi Rubin showed intellect and knowledge in the Bris Milah subject well above his years. Very Impressive. As an outsider, I think the Mohels showed the board how much this topic lies at the core of the Jewish religion. They showed the importance and talked about the self sacrifice the Jews have indured all through the millenia to hold dear to their customs as an integral part of their life. I wish them the best of luck.