New York Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered the dispersal of a mass funeral for a Hasidic rabbi in Brooklyn on Tuesday and charged the ultra-Orthodox community, the most punished by COVID-19 in the city, for not respecting social distancing measures.
“Something absolutely unacceptable has happened in Williamsburg tonight: a great funeral in the midst of this pandemic. When I found out, I have personally gone to make sure the crowd was dispersed. And what I have seen WILL NOT be tolerated”, Stated the mayor on Twitter.
“My message to the Jewish community, and to all communities, is that simple: the period of warnings has passed.”added de Blasio.
According to the newspaper The New York Times, the New York Police has dispersed in recent weeks various ceremonies such as weddings and funerals in neighborhoods with a large Jewish population, but the one this Tuesday was the first in which the mayor intervened.
To the funeral in question, from Rabbi Chaim MertzThousands of people attended, according to the Mayor of New York.
De Blasio ordered the Police to apply “zero tolerance” with this type of ceremony from now on and to arrest attendees if necessary.
There were no arrestsBut Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday that a dozen subpoenas were issued citing violations of social alienation and refusal to disperse.
Criticism of the Mayor
Despite the crowds that violated the measures against COVID-19, De Blasio’s intervention has been criticized by the ultra-Orthodox as an attack on the community when those rules are violated daily in the city’s parks.
This very Tuesday, for example, Thousands of people gathered to observe the flight of military planes that paid tribute to workers who fight the virus.
The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council held that “People have not met the social distancing at a funeral the same day that thousands of New Yorkers have not met the distance for 45 minutes to see a flyby.”
The group headquarters Satmar Hasidic wrote on Twitter that the funeral was held with the approval of the New York police, who carried barriers to block the way.
The President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. LauderHe said Wednesday that he was recommending that the group formally censor De Blasio for his response to the funeral.
“I agree with the mayor that social distancing is of vital importance, and last night’s meeting was not appropriateLauder said in a statement. “But blaming the entire Jewish community is the kind of stereotype that is dangerous and unacceptable at any time., and particularly pernicious while the world is full of fear and the worst of us are looking for scapegoats. “
The CEO of the Anti-Defamation LeagueJonathan Greenblatt tweeted that he would generalize to the entire Jewish population of New York City. “It is outrageous, especially when so many are scapegoats for the Jews.”
“Would de Blasio have sent this identical tweet, replacing the word ‘Jewish’ with any other religious minority? If not, why not? The law must be applied in a neutral way, without targeting religious faith ”For his part, the Republican representative of Texas tweeted. Ted Cruz.
Another representative, the Democrat Ted Deutch (Florida), who is Jewish and chairs the lower house ethics committee, said that The photos of the funeral are “disturbing” but he added: “Pointing the entire Jewish community for possible arrests gives us chills on our collective back.”
De blasio said Wednesday that regretted that his words hurt someone’s feelings, but did not regret to say what he described as a dangerous violation of the rules of social distancing.
“If they saw anger and frustration, they are right. I spoke out of true anguish”Said the mayor at his daily coronavirus briefings. De Blasio said he was not targeting the Orthodox community for his religion, but instead cracked down on a massive gathering that put community members and the police at risk. “It is not as if people gathered in the park. There were thousands of people”, said. “What I saw, I have not seen anywhere else”.
More than 1.1 million of the 8.6 million New Yorkers are Jewish, and 72,000 of them reside in the Williamsburg neighborhood, in Brooklyn, where the funeral took place, according to OJPAC.
The Hasidic Community of New York, whose day to day revolves around ceremonies and group activities, has been the most affected in the city by the pandemic, according to local authorities.
Hundreds of community members have died, including leaders like the rabbi Yaakov Perlow, head of the Novominsker dynasty.
The leaders of several US Orthodox organizations issued a statement last month. urging its members to heed the rules of social estrangement after the Fire Department had to break a large orthodox wedding in Brooklyn. That effort was an unusual step among disparate groups to help close multiple daily prayers and other traditional practices that are central to the daily lives of many Orthodox Jews.
Neither the dead nor the ban on group rallies in New York have, Nevertheless, that the Hasidics have ceased to congregate in great ceremonies.
New York City has become the world epicenter of COVID-19, with 157,713 confirmed cases and 17,215 deceased people.
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