NEW YORK (JTA) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the Orthodox Jewish community to refrain from holding large religious gatherings, saying on Tuesday that the New York Police Department will “do what they need to do” to enforce his social distancing regulations.
“I made it clear yesterday that these social distancing regulations are not just please, they are regulations that you can be fined for,” Cuomo said.
“I understand religious gatherings, I understand the Jewish Orthodox community. I’m very close to them and I have been for many, many years. But now is not the time for large religious gatherings. We’ve paid this price already. We’ve learned this lesson. That was New Rochelle in Westchester.”
COVID-19 spread through that New York City suburb in mid-to late March in large part due to Purim services and parties. The Jewish attorney at the center of the New Rochelle outbreak, who was released late last month from the hospital, infected those who attended a large funeral and Shabbat services.
Hundreds of Hasidic Jews attended a funeral on Sunday night for a local rabbi, taking over a street in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn to pay their respects. Police broke up the gathering using sirens and their public address system. No arrests were made and no fines were issued, however.
On Sunday, there were at least two other funerals held by Hasidic Jews on the streets of Brooklyn, the New York Post reported.