Shomrim Meet With NYPD Before the Funeral Procession

Mayor de Blasio Wishes Jews Happy Yom Ha’atzmaut, Late Last Nite Singled Out Bklyn Haredeim

What gives? Today is Yom Ha’atzmaut, Isreal’s nationally celebrated Independence Day.

This day marks Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948.

And so, Mayor de Blasio tweeted thusly earlier this evening:

But many Jewish people aren’t buying it. No; it’s not because of his politics or Mayor de Blasio’s botching of Hebrew. In fact, it’s truly something far more insidious.

Yesterday, there was a funeral in Williamsburg. As is customary, Hasidic people took to the streets, mourning the loss of a local religious figure, Rabbi Chaim Mertz of the Kahal Tolath Yakov synagogue.

According to The Yeshiva World, an Orthodox Jewish paper, “The Rebbe was a tremendous Tzadik [righteous person], and one of the most Choshuva Admorim [rabbis] in New York.”

When the Mayor learned of this, he traveled out to Williamsburg to personally aid police in dispersing the crowd.

Late last night, Mayor de Blasio tweeted this:

City Council member Chaim Deutsch, representing Orthodox Jewish areas of Brooklyn, summoned his own Tweet-storm in which he scathingly stated, “…singling out one community is ridiculous…every neighborhood has people who are being non-compliant. To speak to an entire ethnic group as though we are all flagrantly violating precautions is offensive, it’s stereotyping, and it’s inviting antisemitism…”

But what of the facts? Were the people of Williamsburg doing anything dangerous? In fact, everyone present was masked, as is required in situations when social distancing is impossible, as per Governor Cuomo’s order. This is acceptable in the supermarket, when you’re leaning over the oranges to snap a bunch of bananas, while people on either side of you are close-as-can-be, inspecting produce and placing goods in their baskets for purchase.

It’s acceptable when you’re at the liquor store, and you need to pass another customer in the narrow lanes, surrounded by wine bottles of all shapes and sizes, stacked up to your waist. It’s acceptable in the parks, when we exercise, and have to pass other health-inspired New Yorkers trying desperately to stay in shape during the shutdown.

And, while President Trump ordered the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels to fly over the city in recognition of the hard work of those staffing out hospitals, crowds could be observed, crowds not observing social distancing, in fact.

Crowds Line NYC Walking Paths to See Sky Show. Courtesy of SplashNews.Com. Copyright Diggzie

Crowds Line NYC Walking Paths to See Sky Show. Courtesy of SplashNews.Com. Copyright Diggzie

The fact remains: Gatherings of more than ten are against orders, and punishable, under our current system.

Whether you would like to acknowledge it or not, social distancing is an unproven medical concept that may, or may not, work. (See article: Lack of Evidence and Unintended Consequences: Social Distancing and Social Isolation )

Have we really stooped so low as to permit our elected officials to tell us we can’t assemble in public? What of our right to freedom of religion? Or, our right to freely associate?

The Bill of Rights is being violated, in the name of responding to COVID19. The problem is, we’re giving up quite a bit, at a significant loss, giving in to a procedure that’s unproven, and outside the bounds of acceptable law.

What will threats of fines and arrests accomplish? Aren’t alleged offenders going to be brought into closer contact with other people, once they’re hauled in and thrown into a filthy jail cell? And, fining people for observing the traditions of their faith is ludicrous, definitely not something that should ever have happened in these United States, no matter the pretended justification.

Police Commissioner Dermott Shea stated that while there were no arrests, twelve individuals were handed summonses.

And, as for fines, the Hasidim are also dealing with unemployment. It’s insulting to the Jewish community, and to every New Yorker, that we should be threatened in this manner, when many of us cannot scrape two quarters together, waiting for “help,” finding that the New York Unemployment phone number just hangs up on them.

Remember, Williamsburg is an insular community, and there are Orthodox school bus drivers, small shop owners and workers, and tons of other non-“essential” workers in Williamsburg presently out of work.

And, it’s not like the city was unaware that any of this was going to happen. The Shomrim, a religious Jewish volunteer patrol unit, coordinated with the NYPD’s Community Affairs Unit prior to the funeral. In fact, the NYPD  placed sawhorses along the street in the hours before the procession.

Williamsburg community activist Rabbi Abe Friedman had this to say:

“We had an understanding with the police department that the Shomrim patrol would have 50 members and make sure everyone is wearing masks…”

Shomrim Meet With NYPD Before the Funeral Procession

Shomrim Meet With NYPD Before the Funeral Procession

Perhaps it’s time to rethink this entire ghoulish  nightmare. Sure; let’s try our best to take measures, both proven and unproven, to slow the spread of COVID19.

But at the same time, let’s try to balance that response with our need to worship as we choose, and go where we want, associating with whom we choose. If we lose these precious rights, we have lost the Republic.

It doesn’t matter if you worship Yahweh, Krishna, Satan, or the Grinch. Or, if you’re an agnostic or a devout Atheist.

It’s our right to live as we see fit, according to our own logical, intuitive, and emotional conclusions, within the bounds of our own chosen philosophy, whether a hallowed group religion handed down for five thousand years or the philosophy of one, cobbled piecemeal after a life of five decades, born out of pain and pleasure, intellectual learning and brutal emotional reality.

Was Mayor de Blasio, in fact, singling out Jews? Of course, it’s all a matter of spin and opinion, but if you ask many Jewish people in Brooklyn, you’re bound to hear, “oy vey!,” “fuggedaboudit!,” and other phrases not fit for print.

It is true that the members of the Jewish community had been attacked mercilessly in the months before “lockdown.” Anyone forget the rampage on the streets of Jersey City? Or the other acts of wanton violence against (obviously) religious Jewish people minding their own business in their own neighborhood in Brooklyn?

In fact, there has already been an anti-Semitic attack; two men attacked a couple of Jewish adolescents, screaming slurs and throwing street trash at them.

Perhaps this wasn’t the best approach; drawing attention to Jews as “disease spreaders,” is falling hard for tired, time-worn canards.

As for Israeli Independence Day, we’re faced with some serious and most difficult questions.

What are Jews celebrating independence from? Is it morally justifiable to shut down religious institutions and prohibit traditional religious gatherings, such as for funerals and weddings, or even group worship on Saturdays or Sundays (or on whatever day), when it’s perfectly cool and A-OK to go down to the bodega and pick up some malt liquor, crowded in, waiting on line as the regulars pick lottery numbers, waiting on a dream?

3 Comments

  • Avatar R. Chesler says:

    Disgusting. Picking on a group that’s already targeted.

  • Avatar Carter Regis says:

    These hard-won freedoms. Like the right to assemble. The right to conduct business. The right to worship as we choose. ALL are being trampled on. And for what? Is this all it took? The recommendation of a doctor? Does the NIH hold more power than our elected officials or our laws? This whole thing is utterly nonsense. It’s never been tired before because it’s a bunch of crap. Fauci is NOT a god. You had better stop acting like this. We have dictatorial control but it’s not our Congress or President. It’s the medical establishment. No way should any of this went down. And yes, it sure looks like Dem leaders have some agendas. This isn’t an excuse to remold society in their dream image. It’s a pandemic. A pandemic that is fully politicized, and most stand to lose, but not directly from the COVID but from how we reacted. You can’t shut us all out of our houses of worship. You can’t close down our businesses. This all needs to be challenged–AND NOW. Forget about politics, vote Dem, Vote Red, whatever. Just don’t vote for any of the clowns who was OK with this.

  • Avatar don't blame me says:

    I don’t buy into fear. Covid 19 is a virus. It’s not the end of the world. Social distancing and the NY pause are all bogus. I didn’t vote in the last election so don’t blame me.

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