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Andrew Yang’s anti-circumcision stance cuts deep: Jewish leaders

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He’s got foreskin in the game.

Andrew Yang, the failed presidential candidate who has signaled his intention to run for mayor of New York City, is a long-time opponent of circumcision — and some political observers wonder if that position could cut into his popularity.

The entrepreneur, 45, who would face a crowded field in the June Democratic primary, has repeatedly spoken of his disdain for the traditional snip.

“Against the practice,” he told a Twitter fan in March 2019 when asked about his stance on “routine infant circumcision?”

In a follow-up interview that same month with the Daily Beast, Yang elaborated, saying he originally planned to have his two boys circumcised but his wife talked him out of it.

“From what I’ve seen, the evidence on it being a positive health choice for the infant is quite shaky,” Yang said. “It’s sort of pushed on parents in many situations.”

Yang added that he supports anti-circumcision activists, known as “intactivists,” although he also believes in every parent’s right to choose.

“I’m highly aligned with the intactivists,” said Yang. “History will prove them even more correct.”

Georganne Chapin, founder and executive director of the non-profit Intact America, told The Post it’s about time the issue enters the political mainstream.

“It’s just not a taboo subject anymore and that’s incredibly refreshing,” she said. “If Andrew Yang stays in the race, it will be discussed as part of contemporary politics and I think that’s great.”

Stock photo of medical scissors
Yang says that he supports anti-circumcision activists, known as “intactivists,” although he also believes in every parent’s right to choose.
Angel Chevrestt

Circumcision has existed in traditional Jewish culture for thousands of years. The “bris,” which involves the ritualistic removal of the foreskin when a child is 8 days old, is one of the most sacred rituals of Judaism.

Today upwards of 80 percent of all American male newborns undergo the procedure, but critics say it has limited hygienic and health benefits, causes undue pain for babies, and can reduce sexual pleasure.

“Why are we paying for medically unnecessary surgery for someone who didn’t ask for it,” said Chapin, a former health care executive. “Circumcisions themselves are a billion-dollar industry in the US.”

Yang’s tough talk could open an old wound with Jewish voters in New York City, local leaders warned.

“There are … anti-circumcision activists who are pretty aggressive and threatening. They call up [traditional circumcision providers] and threaten them,” one rabbi told The Post.

Cantor Philip L. Sherman, 66, said the stance would be “significantly problematic for [Yang] politically.”

“If you’re trying to garner votes among the liberal Jewish community and especially in the Orthodox community, you can forget it. You can take that whole bloc out,” Sherman, who has spent more than 40 years performing Jewish circumcision, told The Post.

The Mohel washes his hands before the circumcision ceremony begins.
The Mohel washes his hands before the circumcision ceremony begins.
Corbis via Getty Images

“I can tell you from a religious and multicultural standpoint, this can be taken in a very negative light,” added Mendy Mirocznik, a Staten Island rabbi. “I hope that such comments like this do not cause the flame of anti-Semitism to be ignited even further.”

Yang said he supports a live and let live approach to the procedure.

“I have attended multiple friends’ brises and felt privileged to do so. I believe in religious freedom. This is every parent’s personal decision and not a role of government,” he said in a Dec. 2020 tweet.

Reps for Yang declined to say whether he was circumcised.

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