Three Jewish organizations and three mohalim, representing a wide spectrum of Torah Jewry, are now taking their fight to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit after a federal judge refused to grant a preliminary injunction against an unprecedented regulation of bris milah, and lifted the stay that was preventing it from going into effect
The plaintiffs have filed a formal notice of appeal and will be seeking to obtain a new stay in the case, a source with knowledge of the case told Hamodia on Monday.
In a ruling issued late Thursday, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled against the lawsuit brought by the Satmar-affiliated Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada, Agudath Israel of America, the Chabad-affiliated International Bris Association and three mohalim who were seeking an injunction against a new regulation. This regulation requires mohalim to obtain parents’ signature on a consent form which espouses the NYC Department of Health’s view associating metzitzah b’peh (MBP) with serious health risks, a position rejected by mohalim and leading medical experts.
State Senator Simcha Felder, who as a city councilman had played a key role defending MBP seven years ago, told Hamodia that he was disturbed by the news.
“I am profoundly concerned about the judge’s refusal to grant an injunction against the regulation of bris milah, which is a violation of the fundamental rights of both freedom of speech and religion,” Felder said.
“We have always remained steadfast in observing every religious ritual under the most trying of circumstances; it’s hard to believe that we are facing this challenge in our wonderful democracy,” he added.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind said the news made him “angry.” He expressed his outrage at the notion that Mayor Michael Bloomberg should act this way.
“This originates from the mayor, this was pushed by the mayor, he is the one responsible for putting us through this,” the Assemblyman stressed, adding that none of the prominent non-Jewish politicians would ever have initiated a governmental regulation on milah.
“To take something so fundamental, so basic, to interfere with it under a Bloomberg administration — under a Jew — is something that is so painful,” he added. “With Hashem’s help we will overcome this, but the mioney that has to be spent, the efforts that have to be made…”
Hikind pointed out that this regulation is deeply offensive to parents as well as mohalim. “Every parent loves his children; they don’t need the government to tell them what to do.
“My daughter has four boys,” he revealed. “Her husband is a doctor. At the bris of their children, metzitah b’peh was performed. This didn’t suddenly start, it is not a new thing; [MBP] has been practiced for thousands of years.”
At a Boro Park bris on Monday, participants were aware of — and distressed about — the regulation.
One father of a large family, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that he would refuse to sign a consent form before any future bris.
“Not because I am against MBP,” he was quick to clarify. “I would never use a mohel who doesn’t do MBP, and according to my mesorah this is an essential, non-negotiable part of bris milah. I wouldn’t sign it because it would insinuate that I agree that MBP is dangerous but I am willing to forgo the danger. Nothing is farther from the truth. I love my children with every fiber of my being. I insist on MBP because I am confident that it is perfectly safe.”