The legislation was proposed at a Board of Health meeting last month by Dr. Jay K. Varma, deputy commissioner for disease control for New York City's health department, after 11 infants contracted neonatal herpes between November 2000 and December 2011, after the circumcision ritual. Two of the infants died.
Jews regularly practice circumcision as part of their religion, but mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews practice metzitzah b'peh, during which the mohel, or person performing the procedure, orally sucks the blood from the infant's newly circumcised penis.
The numbers reported came to light as the city's health department launched an investigation after the infant deaths were reported in New York, the most recent in September in Brooklyn.
In a statement advising New York parents to refrain from direct oral-genital suction during circumcision, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said, "There is no safe way to perform oral suction on any open wound in a newborn.
Reports of infant herpes infections and deaths are not new.
In November of 2004, the Department of Health reported that twin male infants contracted neonatal herpes after the ritual circumcision, one of whom died.
Spokesman Jerry Schmetter of the Brooklyn Defense Attorney's office said a criminal investigation regarding a rabbi who was linked to infant herpes cases, was "still ongoing."
"[Orthodox Jews] look at it in terms of religion being more important than the individual, whereas someone who is more liberal will make sure that the individual's rights are taken care of," he said.
But the ritual is not just an upholding of a Jewish tradition, but also a firm reminder of their beliefs.
The little blood that is drawn from the newly circumcised penis is usually left alone or wiped away under regular procedures, he said.
"There are no known medical benefits to sucking [the blood]," he said.
Rabbi Moshe Tendler, professor of Talmudic Law and Bioethics at Yeshiva University, dismissed any defense of the practice, calling it "primitive nonsense."
"[The ritual] has nothing to do with religion. It's only their customs. But they've managed to convince the city that it's a violation of their religious freedoms."
Tendler notes that there is an alternative to the metzitzah b'peh in which a mohel doesn't use his mouth directly, but uses a sterilized glass tube or pipette to suck the blood from the wound, which many modern orthodox Jews have started to incorporate during their circumcision rituals.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York could not be reached for comment.
Last week, a court in Germany outlawed circumcision on infants with the exception of medical purposes.