Cuomo Inexplicably Accuses A Segment of “Ultra-Orthodox Jews” as “Never Obeying Any of the COVID guidelines, Going Back to March”

Cuomo Inexplicably Accuses A Segment of “Ultra-Orthodox Jews” as “Never Obeying Any of the COVID guidelines, Going Back to March”

      After pointing out recent outbreaks of COVID-19 that resulted from mass gatherings both at a bar in Broome Country and a “Sweet 16” party in Long Island, Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly shifted to an explosive rant in which he accused a small fraction of what he calls “the Ultra-Orthodox community” of not only failing to follow the current restrictions during the current two-week red zone “pauses,” but that a small fraction of the Orthodox community “have never complied with any of the closedown rules, going back to March.”

   Gov. Cuomo’s relationship with many Jews in Brooklyn and Queens was fractured last Tuesday after he spoke with Jewish leaders who agreed to enforce 50% capacity and more social distancing in shuls, but then hours later, the governor suddenly changed his story, without warning, to say that only a 10-person maximum would be allowed.

      Jews also said they said they were feeling shocked and betrayed by the governor, who, today, poured salt into their wounds when he blamed the “shock” of the Jews in red zones, not to his own impolitic gaffe, but on their own lack of compliance.

 “Some [Jews] are finding [these restrictions shocking] because they didn’t follow many of the rules all along,” the governor falsely generalized, “and that is why they think this is abrupt. What is abrupt is that they would comply with any rules.”

   However, people who live in the Jewish red zones say that they did observe the health protocols, that Orthodox communities adapted to the restrictions in many ways, and that they had just reinvigorated their mask-wearing two weeks ago. 

   But now, for some reason, Gov. Cuomo has lost control of his loshon hara about them.

   For instance, every shul and non-essential business in New York City was closed for months last spring. In fact, many  businesses had to close their doors for good, after being shut down on March 15 because of COVID. Men who usually attend shul three times a day, plus perhaps more for shiurim and simchas, davened at home, in backyards, and on porches. 

 Also, during the first shutdown, B’nos groups leaders of girls who usually meet on Shabbos afternoons for fun get-togethers, put together “B’nos in a Box” to distribute weekly an activity, a story, some nosh, and a weekly 

newsletter for girls who usually attend. The girls’ families picked up their boxes on Fridays to enjoy on Shabbos afternoons under the lockdown.

     In addition, hundreds of shiurim and simchas took place virtually on Zoom.

   When the Shomer Shabbos Shul in Boro Park reopened in May, the “minyan factory” which usually sees hundreds of mispallelim a day coming through its doors to daven, had hired security guards to ensure minyanim of 10 people only per floor and to also ensure strict social distancing.

        However, this morning, Gov. Cuomo would not let up on his accusations about Jews.

  “Some of them [members of the Jewish community] have not enforced the rules for months, and that is the shock to some of these communities, and that I find, inexplicable at this point,” said Gov. Cuomo, who did point out that the majority of “Ultra-Orthodox groups” with whom he has spoken are compliant with the COVID health protocols. “But there are a relatively small number loud, but small groups that are uncooperative, and they just believe that they should be exempt from these types of government regulations.”

  Gov. Cuomo explained the current “micro-clusters”of COVID result from “situations where there was a lack of compliance that was matched by a lack of enforcement.”

   “If you have compliance and enforcement, the [outbreak] situation is ended,” the governor said. “If you have a lack of compliance and a lack of enforcement, then there is an outbreak.”

  To illustrate, Gov. Cuomo said the very visible, bright yellow school buses with children inside are easy-to-spot indicators that members of the Ultra-Orthodox communities are not conforming to the restriction of his March 7 executive order in which he closed in red zones: public and private schools, non-essential businesses, switched all restaurants to take-out only, and reduced the maximum capacity of each shul to 10 people.

   “If a yeshiva is open, you can tell because you see school buses with children in them, the governor said. “School buses are usually large and yellow, they are designed to stick out from a safety point of view. It is not that I am asking local governments to take fingerprints [to do detective work on whether the schools are open,] right? You can see the school buses guys.”

    Gov. Cuomo compared his restrictions and enforcement of those restrictions in a pandemic to the need for police to stop drivers for speeding.

 “The overwhelming majority of all traffic fatalities are involved with speeding,” Gov. Cuomo said. “If people weren’t speeding, you would dramatically drop the number of fatalities. So speeding enforcement saves lives.

“You can have an accident, but the fatalities are much less if you are not speeding.

  “[Similarly,] if we have better enforcement of the health protocols, we will save lives.”

. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

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