New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) threatened to close synagogues on Monday if Orthodox Jews did not obey social distancing rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Cuomo was discussing the difficulty of enforcing coronavirus rules: “I have to say to the Orthodox community tomorrow, ‘If you’re not willing to live with these rules, then I’m going to close the synagogues.'”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: "I have to say to the Orthodox community tomorrow, 'If you're not willing to live with these rules, then I'm going to close the synagogues.'" pic.twitter.com/QWOPvZMbFI
— The Hill (@thehill) October 5, 2020
Cuomo added that it was the “last thing” he wanted to do. He also later said he would have to say the same thing to “the black ministers.”
Orthodox Jews, particularly in certain Brooklyn neighborhoods, have been the targets of harsh enforcement of coronavirus restrictions. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio personally oversaw the breakup of a Jewish funeral in the spring, then called out the Jewish community on Twitter. In June, the city welded shut the gates of parks in Jewish neighborhoods — and local residents cut them open again.
However, De Blasio himself participated in a massive Black Lives Matter march that month, along with gay and transgender rights advocates. He was photographed with his mask down, talking to the family of George Floyd, the man killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in May in police custody.
As part of Cuomo’s warning against large gatherings by Orthodox Jews, the governor used a photograph from a funeral in 2006, according to the New York Post. The photograph was later replaced.
Currently, Jews are observing the High Holiday season, including the holiday of Sukkot (or the Feast of Tabernacles). Traditionally, Jews gather for meals in outdoor huts to celebrate the holiday.
In a case brought jointly by Jewish and Christian leaders in June, a federal judge ruled that Cuomo and De Blasio were violating First Amendment religious freedoms by restricting religious services while allowing Black Lives Matter protests.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.