Statement from Agudath Israel of America On NYC Board of Health Approval of Circumcision Regulation


agudath-israel-emblemAgudath Israel of America is profoundly disappointed in the New York City Board of Health’s adoption today of a regulation requiring a mohel (Jewish ritual circumciser) to obtain written consent from parents of baby boys before performing metzitzah b’peh, or oral suction, as part of bris milah, the Jewish circumcision rite.

While not all Jewish religious authorities require metzitzah b’peh, many do – which means, for the tens of thousands of families in New York City who follow the view that the practice is an integral part of bris milah, that the City is inserting itself directly into a religious practice. It does so by compelling mohalim to deliver a message with which they fundamentally disagree. The regulation raises serious constitutional concerns, and will surely be subject to strict judicial scrutiny.

The regulation, moreover, is based on the assumption that the risks associated with metzitzah b’peh are so substantial as to warrant an aggressive governmental campaign against the practice. However, serious questions have been raised regarding the Health Department’s assessment of the risk. What is more, the city has never moved to regulate any of a number of other activities carrying significantly greater and more demonstrable risks.

Looming in the background of the regulation’s adoption is the fact that the circumcision rite itself has come under attack in other parts of the world, raising the specter that New York City’s move may establish a dangerous precedent for additional governmental interference in bris milah.

Agudath Israel had appealed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Commissioner Thomas Farley for an adjournment of today’s vote so as to allow responsible Orthodox Jewish leaders to engageHealth Department officials in substantive dialogue about how to best protect children’s health without impinging on free speech and religious liberty. In the end, unfortunately, they declined the request. Agudath Israel regards this as an opportunity squandered.

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel’s executive vice president, said this afternoon that it is “sad that the City of New York, which has made such an important contribution to the renaissance of Jewish life over the past century, has become the first jurisdiction in the United States to regulate an aspect of bris milah.”

{ Newscenter}


  1. Many single people of all ages are “sad” that the problem of Shiduchim,” the Silent Holoocaust” is not addresed.

    Many as myself will unfortunately will leave this world without a Zeycher of any kind.

  2. May the lawsuit begin.

    They cunningly made this “rule” on the same day they made their sugary drink law, in order to have that take away from the negative national attention this “rule” would have gotten them. Don’t worry, the lawsuit will garner them that attention

  3. well, what were of the first gezeras hashmad(restrictive laws made by the greeks) they are not stupid, they are making it sound like a health related issue not one child died from it (the mohel accused of passing herpies tested negative)the mohelim have to go through extenstive testing to be sure they are healthy before doing brissim, its absolutly ridiculous that they could get away with
    wake up, we are in galus!

  4. Any patient anywhere is required to consent to medical procedures. It’s nothing new. And it doesn’t exactly affect the practice. It’s not like the mohalim were doing metzitza in secret without the parents’ knowledge


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