Well, this is awkward.
And by awkward, I’m not talking about the inherent delicacy when discussing little, tiny penises (is that a word? anyone?) No, no, no. That would be very immature. This is awkward because it’s a separation of religion and state kind of a deal, and THOSE conversations are always loaded.
Add in the baby foreskin issue and the herpes angle and you’ve kind of hit the awkward trifecta.
The Daily News reports that Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind is outraged that Mayor Bloomberg has expressed disapproval over the Orthodox Jewish practice of metzitzah b’peh, a practice which is currently under review by the New York City Department of Health. Metzitzah b’peh is a practice “in which the mohel performing a bris removes blood from the baby’s circumcision wound by mouth.”
This process is under review by the NYC Dept. of Health because a Brooklyn newborn died last September after contracting the Herpes I virus from the rabbi who performed the ritual circumcision. Gothamist reports that “according to the CDC at least 11 NYC boys have been infected with herpes (at least one fatally) in the past decade because of metzitzah b’peh.”
When Bloomberg was asked his opinion of the practice this past Tuesday, he responded, “There are certain practices that doctors say are not safe and we will not permit those practices to the extent that we can stop them. You don’t have a right to put any child’s life in danger, and this clearly does.”
Which, to us, seems like a pretty measured response to the situation. Bloomberg didn’t, like, make a gagging noise or anything. He said something practical that was neither a personal attack against those who practice this ritual nor a stance against circumcision.
So, how did Assemblyman Hikind respond?
Well! Let us tell you.
Gothamist reports that Hikind said, “‘Orthodox Judaism isn’t barbaric. Who cares more about children than their own parents? There’s no call for Mayor Bloomberg to speak disrespectfully to our community, to speak condescendingly about our cultural traditions.’
“Oh and that’s not all, he went on: ‘This issue is not about soda pop. It’s about religious tenets and it requires an extremely sensitive and respectful approach, not flip remarks that are insulting to an entire community.'”
Burn! Hikind totally went after the soda ban! How relevant and topical.
Bloomberg doesn’t appear to have responded to Hikind’s statements, but we just want to draw attention to one part of it, the part where Hikind says, “Who cares more about children than their own parents?”
So many people! You know how we know this?
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen