Niederman: Practice Is “Highly Safe”

The city’s decision not to ban a circumcision practice that, the Health Department said, has lead to the death of at least one child wasn’t likely to please the Christopher Hitchens types.

But the Chasidic communities affected are also upset. They don’t want the city to launch a public-information campaign warning people that the practice is dangerous.

Williamsburg Rabbi David Niederman, speaking for the Central Rabbinical Congress, put out a largely conciliatory statement that ends on this note:

“We have serious concerns about the Health Department’s insistence on advising mothers of newborn boys concerning a religious practice. We believe that continuing the religious practice of metzitzah b’peh is highly safe. We will work with expectant mothers and fathers in our community to urge them to consult with their rabbis as they approach the blessed event of celebrating a bris for a newborn boy.”

That’s in direct contradiction to the assessment by the Health Commissioner, Tom Frieden, and seems aimed at undermining the public health campaign. This one doesn’t quite seem over.