Candidates running for New York City Mayor have expressed concern over a controversial Jewish circumcision rite in which blood is sucked orally from the wound on the baby boy's penis.
During a Jewish Press forum on Wednesday night, contenders expressed their opinions whether they would support the law that says parents must sign a consent form acknowledging the dangers of metzitzah b'peh ritual before it is performed, or would abolish the requirement.
“I think even before taking office as mayor, there is time to get together with community leaders to change policies to find a way to protect all of our children,” said Bill de Blasio during the press forum.
Metzitzah b’peh has come under fire by many Jewish groups, including Modern Orthodox associations. Opponents argue that the practice carried out by a mohel [ritual circumciser] poses a serious risk of spreading herpes to the infant. They recommend the use of a glass pipette instead of direct oral suction.
According to New York City health officials, at least 11 boys contracted herpes from the practice between 2004 and 2011 in New York. Two died from the virus and two others suffered brain damage.
Last September, the board of health voted 9-0 to require those performing metzitzah b’peh to obtain signed consent forms from parents.
Meanwhile, proponents of metzitzah b’peh maintain that there is no conclusive evidence that links herpes to the Jewish ritual, and attempts to limit this practice violate religious freedom.