The mayoral hopefuls who appeared at a Jewish Press forum in Manhattan Beach last night were asked to take a stand on one of the thorniest, weirdest issues that will ever arise in an election of any kind: metzitzah b’peh. In this beautiful ancient ritual, a mohel sucks the blood from a baby’s penis following a circumcision. Since 2000, thirteen babies in New York City have been infected with herpes during the metzitzah b’peh process. Two of them died, and two suffered brain damage.
In an effort to stop babies from dying of herpes while still respecting the fundamental right of people to let a guy suck blood off of their newborn’s penis, the Bloomberg administration mandated in 2012 that before a metzitzah b’peh can take place, parents must at least sign a consent form that spells out the health risks of the practice. The question at the forum was whether the candidates supported the consent form, which, for what it’s worth, the relevant people seem to be ignoring anyway.
For the video impaired, here’s the gist of how they answered. As you read these, keep in mind the “explosive” growth the city’s Orthodox Jewish community has experienced in recent years:
Sal Albanese: Has concerns about metzitzah b’peh but promised to “bring everyone together” as mayor to figure out a consensus solution.
Bill de Blasio: Mayor Bloomberg “impose[d] his will” when he mandated the consent forms. Vowed to “start over” as mayor.
John Liu: Metzitzah b’peh had been going on “for thousands of years” until a “billionaire mayor” decided that he knew “better than everyone else.” He would scrap it.
Christine Quinn: Doesn’t approve of how the consent form was implemented, but would keep it in place.
Erick Salgado: Government has no place intruding on religious practices. He’d scrap it.
Anthony Weiner: Pretty much dodged the question entirely.