LONG ISLAND CITY — Two mohels have been ordered by the city to stop performing ultra-Orthodox circumcisions on babies after they were linked to herpes cases dating back to 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio and health officials said.
But their names will not be publicized due to confidentiality rules, the mayor said.
“We can’t publish the names overtly,” he said. “We are looking for some pathway to do that that’s appropriate. We can certainly tell those individuals they should stop participating in this practice.”
But de Blasio said the mohels in question could still be indirectly involved in the ritual in which blood is sucked from an infant’s circumcised penis.
“They could participate as sort of a second member of a team undertaking the practice and someone else does another element of it,” he said.
De Blasio also blasted former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his previous order stating that parents needed to sign a consent form in advance of the practice, a mandate that has since been lifted.
“The previous administration’s policy was missing the mark entirely,” he said. “It was not making children safer, and it did not have, in my opinion, an effective mechanism for improving the safety of kids or educating the community.”
Since repealing the requirement, six babies have developed herpes, officials said.
Rabbi David Niederman, the head of United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, said the Jewish community wants to work with the city.
“It’s our children on the line,” he said. “We agreed then, we agree now to fully cooperate to really determine what is the cause.”
The city will now undertake a public information campaign to encourage families to ask their mohels about their health statuses, de Blasio said.
“We’re going to inform the parents of their rights,” he said. “If we find any individual has herpes, we’re going right at them, we’re going to find them directly, we’re going to tell them to get out of this work.”
“We think we have real consequences we can create, but we have to be mindful of religious freedom.”