Pleading Guilty To Inciting A Riot In Brooklyn, Heshy Tischler Sentenced To 10 Days Of Community Service

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Heshy Tischler, left, leader of the Borough Park protests against Gov. Andrew Cuomo's new restrictions intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus, danced with Borough Park residents on October 07, 2020 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN (JTA) – Seven months after Heshy Tischler was charged with inciting a riot in Brooklyn’s Borough Park, the Orthodox activist and provocateur has been sentenced to 10 days of community service.

Tischler, a radio host who is now running for City Council, was arrested in October on charges of unlawful imprisonment of a journalist and member of the Hasidic community. He pled guilty to inciting a riot, one of four charges that he drew during a week of turbulent protests in Borough Park last fall when the heavily Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood was placed under tighter restrictions due to rising COVID-19 cases there.

Explaining his decision to plead guilty, Tischler told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Friday, “I did it for the community.”

The charges were dated October 7, the night when Tischler led a group of young Orthodox men in surrounding Jacob Kornbluh, a member of the Hasidic community and a journalist who had criticized Tischler. The crowd surrounded Kornbluh, backing him against a brick wall, and screamed the word “moser” at him. The term means an informer and carries the connotation of a threat.

Video of the incident posted to Twitter by Jake Offenhartz, a reporter for Gothamist, showed a large crowd gathered around Kornbluh with Tischler at the center, shouting in Kornbluh’s face while unmasked. “You’re a moser,” Tischler is seen screaming. “Everybody scream moser!” Tischler had called Kornbluh a “moser” and a “rat” in a video he posted to Instagram earlier that day from a cemetery.

At a protest the night before, where protesters at points burned masks and blocked a city bus from passing, Tischler encouraged the crowds to defy the public health orders imposed on the neighborhood’s schools and synagogues. “We will not close,” he told the crowds. Later, he told protestors, “You are my soldiers. We are at war.”

In a virtual court appearance Friday afternoon, Tischler was sentenced to 10 days of community service. The terms of the sentencing mean that if Tischler completes his community service according to the terms set by the court, the judge will remove the charges from his record.

Tischler, who attained his public persona in Borough Park in large part due to his volunteering, downplayed the severity of the community service requirement, saying it was “not a sentence.”

“I will do 10 days of community service even though each week I do about four, five or six days of community service,” he said.

“Heshy loves helping people and he does community service every day,” said Sara Shulevitz, one of Tischler’s lawyers.

Kornbluh reacted to the sentence in a statement posted to Twitter. “I welcome the fact that Mr. Tischler acknowledged in the court of law that he incited a riot against me and has been held accountable for his actions. I am looking forward to continuing my work in journalism undeterred,” he said.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case, also asked for an order of protection on behalf of Kornbluh. Tischler said that he would ask for an order of protection against Kornbluh.

Tischler is running for City Council in District 48, which includes several Orthodox neighborhoods in south Brooklyn. The seat is currently held by Chaim Deutsch, an Orthodox politician who was recently expelled from the council after pleading guilty to tax fraud.

In a video posted to Instagram Wednesday, Tischler appeared with City Councilman Kalman Yeger, who represents Borough Park, and State Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, two of the most prominent Orthodox elected officials in Brooklyn. Yeger and Eichenstein smile and joke with Tischler in the video, which is branded with Tischler’s campaign logo.


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