Backlash Grows in Orthodox Jewish Areas Over Virus Crackdown by Cuomo

“The governor’s plan is the right one,” the mayor told reporters at his daily news briefing.

Religious leaders said they were not consulted before the governor announced the new rules, and tensions boiled over on the streets of Borough Park late Tuesday, when traditional outdoor festivities for the weeklong Jewish holiday of Sukkot took an angry turn.

A mob swarmed a photographer before midnight, and later beat a Hasidic man who attackers said they believed to be disloyal to the community. Both incidents were captured on video shared widely on social media.

“Snitch!” one man can be heard yelling in English in one video, as the crowd beat the Hasidic man. He was identified as Berish Getz by a relative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear for their safety, and was treated overnight at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.

The Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The anger was not limited to the Orthodox Jewish community. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, which has 1.5 million followers and 210 churches in Brooklyn and Queens, said it was taken by surprise by the governor’s announcement. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn condemned the new rules as “outrageous” in a statement on Tuesday night.

“We fervently object to being told to further reduce capacity, because we have strictly adhered to Covid-19 protocols, and the safety measures have been working,” he said. “The safety of parishioners is paramount for the Diocese of Brooklyn, but the religious freedom of our parishioners is being unjustly attacked.”

“It is outrageous that after incurring great expense to implement all the safety protocols, our parishes are being forced to reduce capacity to a maximum of 10 people in the red zone and 25 people in the orange zone,” he added. “A capacity range of 10 to 25 people is disrespectful to Catholics and to the clergy who all have followed the rules.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Agudath Israel of America, an Orthodox umbrella organization, called the order to limit worship to 10 people “appalling to all people of religion and good faith” and “deeply offensive.”


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