It's been almost two years since the Board of Health unanimously approved a circumcision consent form that requires parents to sign a waiver before their infant can undergo the "metzitzah b’peh" ritual—the circumcision practice in which a mohel sucks the blood from a freshly snipped foreskin. Despite that, many mohels (and Orthodox Jewish families) are still refusing to comply with the law—and as a result two more babies are believed to have been infected with herpes by mohels this year, bringing the total number of babies infected since the policy went into effect to five.
According to the Daily News, the city has identified the mohel in the first case, and found he did not have a consent form. The family of the baby infected in the second case refuses to cooperate with authorities. "There is an unwillingness on the community’s part to buy into the regulation," said lawyer Akiva Shapiro, who defended the policy when Orthodox groups filed a federal lawsuit claiming the law was infringement on religious practice. "The city doesn't have the resources to be at every (circumcision), so if the mohel is against the form because he objects on religious grounds, the parents aren't signing the form."
Part of the problem is that Mayor de Blasio waxed and waned on whether he'd support the law when he was campaigning for mayor. To summarize his stances on it throughout the campaign: first he was in favor of the forms, except he doesn't like how Bloomberg introduced them ("I think the mayor approached this the wrong way"), and then he wanted to get rid of them and start over, but in the end, he quietly kept them in place just the same. Except members of the Orthodox community already thought he agreed with them that the forms were an unnecessary intrusion.
Before the policy was enacted, there had been 11 cases of herpes infection in Jewish newborns in NYC confirmed as a result of the ritual since 2000, according to the Department of Health. Last year, Israeli doctors studying the herpes infection said they believed it may be the cause of noticeably higher number of learning disabled children in Hasidic communities.
Not that that will change some people's minds: "There are much more people slipping on a banana peel," Rabbi Avrohom Cohn, 86, chairman of the American Board of Ritual Circumcision and staunch snip-n-suck advocate, told the News. "We should outlaw banana peels."