Mayoral Candidates Discuss Circumcision Controversy


City Council Speaker Christine Quinn seems to stands alone among Democrat mayoral candidates in supporting the city’s effort to regulate the practice of motzeitzi b’peh.

At a mayoral forum sponsored by The Jewish Press, an Orthodox weekly in Brooklyn, five other Democrats either declined to take a stand on the issue or sided with haredi Jews trying to overturn the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s requirement that parents sign a consent form before allowing oral suction by a mohel during a circumcision.

“I would leave it in place moving forward,” said Quinn, though citing her concern that rabbis and other members of the Orthodox community “felt they weren’t properly consulted.” As seen on a YouTube video of the event (below), Quinn, a close ally of Mayor Michael Bloomberg who rarely criticizes his policies, said the consent decree imposed on mohelim “does balance the important need of the city’s commitment for religious freedom with public heath concerns.”

Comptroller John Liu made the strongest statement against the consent decree, which is being challenged by a group of mohelim and haredi organizations but remains in place. He took Bloomberg to task for challenging a procedure that has been in place for thousands of years and said “I would defer to the rabbis.” His comments drew applause

More moderate stances were taken by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former Councilman Sal Albanese and former congressman Anthony Weiner, who each said they would try to bring both sides of the dispute together to find a compromise.

“I’d start over,” said de Blasio, while Albanese said “I’ll bring everyone together to find a consensus.”

Rev. Eric Selgado, founder of the The Iglesia Jovenes Cristianos Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, warned that the effort to regulate motzeitza b’peh could bolster ‘anti-Semitic groups” who are trying to ban circumcision completely.

Former comptroller William Thompson, who had not arrived at the forum when the question was asked, has previously been critical of Bloomberg’s policy on MBP.

Video by Jacob Kornbluh.