Brooklyn State Assemblyman Dov Hikind says he’s “frankly aghast” at Mayor Bloomberg’s comments concerning a controversial circumcision under review by the city Health Department.
Hikind said Bloomberg’s comments on metzitzah b’peh, in which the mohel performing a bris removes the blood from the baby’s circumcision wound by mouth, were insensitive and disrespectful.
“Orthodox Judaism isn’t barbaric,” said Hikind, an Orthodox Jew. “Who cares more about children than their own parents? There’s no call for Mayor Bloomberg to speak disrespectfully to our community, to speak condescendingly about our cultural traditions.”
“This issue is not about soda pop,” Hikind added, getting in a swipe at the mayor’s mission to limit sugary soda sales. “it’s about religious tenets and it requires an extremely sensitive and respectful approach, not flip remarks that are insulting to an entire community.”
Bloomberg said Tuesday that the practice of metzitzah b’peh, which is under review by the New York City Health Department and was the subject of a recent hearing, is potentially dangerous to newborns.
“There are certain practices that doctors say are not safe and we will not permit those practices to the extend that we can stop them,” Bloomberg said. “You don’t have a right to put any child’s life in danger, and this clearly does.”
Metzitzah b’peh came under harsh scrutiny after the death of a Brooklyn infant who died after contracting herpes through the ritual.
Asked about Hikind’s criticism, a Health Department spokesperson told The Daily Politics, “There is no safe way to perform oral suction on any open wound in a newborn. To protect infant health, parents considering ritual Jewish circumcision need to know that circumcision should only be performed under sterile conditions, like any other procedures that create open cuts, whether by mohelim or medical professionals.”