NYC Department of Health Expected to Decide On Metzitzah Today

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brisNew York’s Board of Health usually deals with topics like lead paint and tuberculosis, but today, the Health Department is expected to vote on an amendment affecting bris milah.

The 11-member panel will decide on a proposal to require parental consent for circumcisions in which the mohel performs metzitzah b’peh.

A Department of Health study claims, without proof, that this practice increases the risk of a herpes infection, which can be fatal for infants.

“We are fully convinced that it presents no danger,” Rabbi Moshe Dovid Niederman, a spokesman for the Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada of Williamsburg, told

In important news, reported yesterday here on, the NYC Department of Health’s campaign to demonize metzitzah b’peh by blaming herpes infections in newborns on the mohel has taken a new hit. Twice in the past two months, the DOH has been embarrassed by evidence shattering its myth about the so-called life-threatening dangers of metzitzah b’peh.

In two of the five herpes cases continually cited as showcasing these “dangers,” new evidence backed by medical records has pointed to family members with active herpes sores – not the mohel – as the most likely source of the infection.

The discovery of this evidence, published in the Yated, based upon live interviews by its reporter Debbie Maimon with parents of the affected babies, has prompted sharp criticism of the Department’s policy of attacking the practice of mbp, and groundlessly targeting mohelim as the source of infection in every case.

In a third case, a baby with a rash on his knees was diagnosed as having herpes even though lab results were negative. Nevertheless, the DOH mounted a hunt for the mohel who performed mbp.

Now, for the first time, a mohel blamed for transmitting herpes to a Kiryas Yoel baby in May has submitted to blood tests to determine if in fact he carries HSV-1 antibodies.

A positive finding, while not proving claims that mbp caused the baby’s illness, would not disqualify the mohel as a potential source. In rare circumstances, someone who has herpes antibodies may “shed” the virus in his bloodstream and possibly transmit it to another party.

Contrary to Department presumptions, however, the mohel tested negative. That is proof positive that since he never had the HSV-1 virus, he could not possibly have transmitted it. Read more here.

{Andy Newscenter}


  1. All these years we had metzitah be’peh, and everything was fine. Now, all of a sudden it is not???????????
    Bloomburg, we are ashamed of you. Shame on you Mr. Bloomburg.
    Who is shmearing the dept. of health around here.

  2. The New York City Board of Health voted today to regulate Bris Milah and specifically Metzitza B’Peh. And like the Jewish community has been warning (and the apologist were until now denying), this is only a first step in the government attempting to outright ban this vital part of Bris Milah. Joel A. Forman, professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai, one of the nine members of the NYC BOH who voted to regulate Bris Milah specifically said after the vote today that he wants the government to outright ban MBP. He is quoted in the N.Y. Times (currently on their website) as saying “It’s crazy that we allow this to go on.”

    The new NYC DOH regulation will be widely ignored, in any event. As the N.Y. Times reported today, more than 200 Orthodox Rabbis have ordered their adherents not to comply with the regulation because they believe it is a mandatory part of the practice of the Jewish religion.

    And it is utterly uneforceable, as the BOH doesn’t have the legal ability to station inspectors in shuls to witness Bris Milahs. And no one from the Chareidi and Chasidic community will maaser anyone. So the BOH won’t even know 1) who the mohel was and 2) whether or not MBP was performed.

    1. The DOH regulation isn’t even a law. It is just a regulation passed by the local directors of the city health board. Even if it is violated, it is not breaking the law. It will result in getting a “ticket” with a monetary fine. It is similar to getting a parking ticket or a restaurant getting a health violation fine. Except the city can tow the car or take away a restaurant’s license if it doesn’t pay the fine. Here the city cannot stop a Mohel from continuing to perform his religious function even if he doesn’t pay the fine(s).

    As the N.Y. Times is reporting today, “failure to comply merely may result in warning letters or fines to the mohelim. Enforcement, though, will be based on investigation of specific complaints and herpes cases, not spot checks or raids, and there are no mandatory punishments, said Dr. Jay K. Varma, the city’s deputy commissioner for disease control.”

    2. It is illegal as it is unconstitutional. The government is constitutionally prohibited from regulating a religious ritual. And the Agudas Yisroel is preparing a lawsuit to overturn the regulation.

    3. It is unenforceable. The government cannot place department of health inspectors in synagogues to observe if the mohel performs MBP or not. At most, they need to ask the parents or mohel. And they generally won’t even know who the mohel was. And even if they ask, neither the parent nor the mohel have to answer or even talk to the DOH or any government officials (it is called the Fifth Amendment) unless the city bothers to get a court subpoena every time they want to investigate. And they need to demonstrate to a judge they have good reason; they cannot simply subpoena hundreds of mohelim.


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