Greenfield Optimistic on Fate of Milah Protection Bill

NEW YORK -

As the legal battle against New York City’s unprecedented regulation of bris milah continues in court, Councilman David Greenfield says that legislation he introduced in the city council that would prevent the city from enacting or enforcing any regulation concerning circumcision has a realistic chance of passing.

“This is one of the most outrageous examples of government intruding into the ability of residents to freely practice their religion without restrictions based on questionable findings,” Greenfield said. “I continue to be outraged that the city took this incredibly misguided step last year, and will fight until the board reverses its decision or this bill becomes law.”

The Torah community was outraged when Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s board of health passed a regulation requiring mohalim to ask parents to sign a consent form which espouses the
Department of Health’s view associating metzitzah b’peh with serious health risks, a position firmly rejected by mohalim and leading medical experts.

Greenfield told Hamodia that he has spoken to many other council members about the proposed bill. “Many are sympathetic to our argument and several have told me that they will co-sponsor the legislation,” he said.

The council will vote on the bill after Bloomberg leaves office.

“I think that both Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota have expressed interest in working with our community on this issue. So I am hopeful they will sign this bill, once passed, into law,” Greenfield said, referring to both the Democratic and Republican candidates for mayor.

“Councilman Greenfield is certainly right in taking a stand against such an unprecedented and unjustified intrusion into our mesorah,” Yerachmiel Simins, an attorney for three Jewish organizations and three mohalim who filed a lawsuit against the city over the regulation, told Hamodia.

Simins added that he was withholding comments on the specific legislation until he reviewed the proposed bill.

That lawsuit is continuing on two levels. Oral arguments in the appeal to the 2nd Circuit from the denial of the preliminary injunction motion by a lower court is expected to be scheduled in the coming weeks, and a decision may issued by Jan. 1.

Yosef Chaim Salazar, an attorney who practices in Baltimore and New York, and is not affiliated with the case, told Hamodia Tuesday that he read the latest legal briefs and found them to be convincing.

“The plaintiffs/appellants have submitted a very powerful reply to the City’s brief, stressing the fact that, irrespective of its motivation, the MBP regulation exclusively affects core religious practices of Orthodox Jews,” Salazar says. “Accordingly, based on well-settled Supreme Court precedent, such regulation needs a heightened level of review by the courts to make sure it does not take away the constitutional rights of the affected population, which was not done by the District Court.”

Simins, the attorney for the plaintiffs, underscored the fact that this is a wide-reaching religious liberties issue.

“Mr. Greenfield is also right that this is not a Jewish issue, but one that affects all Americans concerned about defending the free exercise of religion, especially since the targeted practice has a history of being extraordinarily safe,” he declared.