New York – The Mayor of New York oversaw the dispersal of a crowded Hasidic Jewish funeral and criticized mourners, who had rallied in defiance of the rules of social distancing enacted to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“My message to the Jewish community, to all communities, is simple: The time for the warnings has passed,” de Blasio said on Twitter Tuesday after police dispersed the funeral in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn.
In another tweet, de Blasio said: “Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonight: a large funeral crowd in the midst of this pandemic.” She said he came to make sure the crowd was dispersing and added: “What I saw WILL NOT be tolerated as long as we continue to face the coronavirus.”RELATED
My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.
– Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 29, 2020
Images on social media showed hundreds of people on the street for what was said to be the funeral of a dead COVID-19 rabbi. Some, but not all, mourners had their faces covered.
A police spokesman said Wednesday that the crowd was dispersed without the need for arrest.
Detractors accused de Blasio of targeting the Orthodox Jewish community specifically, noting that it is not the only one that violates the rules of distancing.
“You have to be kidding,” Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who represents the Orthodox Jewish District, said on Twitter. “Does the mayor of New York really need to accuse a specific ethnic community (a community that has been the target of increasing attacks on discrimination in YOUR city) of not complying with the rules?”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that generalizing to all of New York’s Jewish population “is outrageous, especially now that so many people use Jews as scapegoats.”
Others targeted crowds that gathered Tuesday to watch a military aircraft flyby in tribute to health workers.
“Only the bigots are upset when a few hundred Hasidic Jews do what thousands of people in the same city have done on the same day (not keeping the social gap),” the Orthodox Jewish Council for Public Affairs tweeted.
In the months since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, adherence to social distancing guidelines has been a challenge in some Orthodox Jewish communities, where large families live in crowded neighborhoods and trust in secular authorities is low.