New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday ordered the scattering of a mass funeral of a Hasidic rabbi in Brooklyn and charged against the ultra-Orthodox community, the most punished by a coronavirus in the city, for failing to respect social distancing measures.
“Something absolutely unacceptable has happened in Williamsburg tonight: a grand funeral in the midst of this pandemic. Upon learning, I have personally gone to make sure the crowd was dispersed. And what I have seen WILL NOT be tolerated,” said the mayor on Twitter.
“My message to the Jewish community, and to all communities, is that simple: the period of warnings has passed,” added De Blasio.
According to The New York Times, New York Police have dispersed several ceremonies in recent weeks such as weddings and funerals in neighbourhoods with a major Jewish population, but Tuesday’s was the first in which the mayor intervened. Thousands of people attended the funeral in question by Rabbi Chaim Mertz, according to the Mayor of New York.
De Blasio ordered the police to apply “zero tolerance” with such ceremonies from now on and to arrest the attendees if necessary.
Despite the crowd gathered in violation of the measures against the COVID-19, De Blasio’s intervention has been criticized by the ultra-Orthodox as an attack on the community when those rules are violated daily in the city’s parks.
Just this Tuesday, for example, thousands of people gathered to observe the flight of military planes that paid tribute to workers who fight the virus.
The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council held that “people have not met social distancing measures at a funeral the same day that thousands of New Yorkers have failed to meet the distance for 45 minutes to see a flyby.”
The Hasidic community in New York, whose day to day revolves around ceremonies and group activities, has been the most affected in the city by the pandemic, according to local authorities.
Hundreds of community members have died, including leaders such as Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, head of the Novominsker dynasty.
Neither the dead nor the ban on group rallies in New York have, however, caused the Hasidic to stop congregating in large ceremonies.
New York City has become the global epicentre of the coronavirus with 157,713 confirmed cases and 17,215 deaths.