I must respond to a biased assessment by Hella Winston in her article, “Metzitzah Arguments Seen Taking Shape” (Sept. 28). She is clearly wrong both on the constitutional and substantive grounds.
First of all, Winston points to the Prince case, decided back in 1944. Since that time however, the Supreme Court has decided Yoder v. Wisconsin and the Santeria cases, which broaden the rights of individuals and families to make religious-based decision without interference from the state.
In the current case, the minimal risk (11 cases in seven years is hardly an epidemic) from metzitzah b’peh does not justify the NYC Health Department requiring parents to give written consent as infringement on religious freedom by targeting the practices on several groups within Orthodox Judaism.
Secondly, how does Winston or the NYC Health Department expect to enforce this regulation? Do they wish to place a monitor in every synagogue? Would not the haredi and chasidic communities view this regulation as hostile to their community? Hence, there will be one more unenforceable regulation.
A far better solution would be for the city or state health departments to come up with a program providing periodic inspection of the mohelim for communicable diseases. If Winston or Marci Hamilton were more concerned with infant health and less concerned with fighting a war against the chasidic and haredi communities, they would have suggested this solution.
In closing, this writer is a lawyer who did not choose metzitzah b’peh for his son’s bris 18 years ago.
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