A de Blasio endorsement, for metzitzah b’peh ‘without compromise’
At a rally in Williamsburg last night, Bill de Blasio received an endorsement from members of the Ahrony sect of the Satmar community, who cited his willingness to allow the unfettered practice of metzitzah b'peh, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish tradition in which a mohel sucks the blood from the wound of a circumcised penis.
"He was the first one to come to our defense on the issue of metzitzah b'peh, and he's the only candidate who has recommitted himself now to guarantee that we as Orthodox Jews can continue to practice the metzitzah bris mila without compromise," said a speaker who introduced de Blasio, as the candidate stood behind him on stage. "We have no doubt that Bill de Blasio will continue to prove himself loyal to our community in City Hall."
The endorsement event was billed as a massive rally for Satmar supporters, with fliers posted throughout the neighborhood, but did not appear on the public campaign schedule sent out by de Blasio's campaign.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has required parents to sign a consent form notifying them of the dangers of the practice, which is believed to have infected 13 baby boys with herpes, leading to death in two cases, and brain damage in two others.
But the consent form is seen as a sign of religious interference in some Orthodox communities, and all the Democratic mayoral candidates, with the exception of Christine Quinn, have talked vaguely about scaling back the mayor's requirements.
De Blasio did not mention the practice in his remarks, despite some whispering in his ear at one point. But immediately after he left the micrphone, as de Blasio was shaking hands on stage, a speaker communicated the candidate's support.
"He told me to announce to our community that he is the only mayor candidate that promised metzitzah b'peh, what Bloomberg did to it, he will right away take away," said the speaker, who appears to be Rabbi Moishe Indig. "He will sit down with our rabbis ... We will not have his meeting with the lawyers. His meeting will be with the rabbis, and right away it will be eliminated. He is the mayor for New York City."
A video of the remarks was sent to Capital by an interested reader.
A spokesman for de Blasio reiterated his previously stated position on the issue.
"Consistent with what he has said in the past, Bill has committed to meet with the community and health regulators to find a solution that keeps children safe while taking into account the community's concerns," said Dan Levitan, a spokesman for de Blasio. "He would keep the consent forms in place until an alternative is found."
In his remarks, de Blasio spoke about addressing the needs of homeowners, small business owners, and especially large families.
De Blasio said every neighborhood needs affordable housing "but no community needs it more particularly than the Jewish community."
"And by the way, you know at one point Mayor Bloomberg was proposing the small micro-studios, he thought that was the kind of housing we need in New York City," de Blasio. "I think we need housing for large families too."
And he promised to restore cuts to Priority 5 and Priority 7 vouchers for child care, which disproportionately help Orthodox communities.
"Now this mayor, he singlehandedly took away every single child care voucher for large families in this city," de Blasio said. "And I fought him for years, and for years we stopped him. And finally, unfortunately, he won the day. Well, I want you to know when I'm in City Hall, I look forward to the day soon when we restore the childcare vouchers for large families."