The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the largest group of Orthodox rabbis in the world, in light of the pending directive of the New York City’s Health Department for parents to sign statements of informed consent prior to the performance of “metzitzah be-peh” (direct oral suction of the wound) as part of the traditional Bris Milah (circumcision), states:
Many Jewish legal authorities have ruled that direct oral suction is not an integral part of the circumcision ritual, and therefore advocate the use of a sterile tube to preclude any risk of infection. The RCA has gone on record as accepting the position of those authorities. Nevertheless, the RCA respects the convictions and sensitivities of those in the Orthodox Jewish community who disagree with this ruling and joins in their deep concern about government regulation of religious practices. The RCA urges these groups to voluntarily develop procedures to effectively prevent the unintended spread of infection.
The RCA supports the recent call of the Agudath Israel of America to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Health Department that, instead of unilaterally imposing regulations, they collaborate with Orthodox Jewish leadership to develop protocols to address health concerns.
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, the RCA President, summarized his organization’s position. “The act of circumcision is a precious and cherished ritual for the Jewish community, one which initiates our sons into the religious covenant. The RCA maintains that parents should use methods, in strict conformity with Jewish law, which enable them to hand down our religious legacy to a new generation safely and appropriately.”