One of the few things that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) seem to agree on is that New York's Jewish communities deserve all their scorn during this coronavirus pandemic. The city is experiencing a new surge in COVID cases, and the governor explained that most of those outbreaks are occurring in houses of worship. So he's once again limiting worship in those hot spots to 10 people, and banning mass gatherings altogether.
This time Gov. Cuomo went one step further and threatened to close the synagogues and schools if they don't comply.
"If you do not agree to follow the rules, then we will close the institutions down," he said. "I am prepared to do that."
Sharing images of Hasidic Jews, @NYGovCuomo threatens to shutdown religious institutions: "We know religious institutions have been a problem … If you do not agree to enforce the rules, then we will close the institutions down. I am prepared to do that." pic.twitter.com/vn3BgxPTPh— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 5, 2020
A group of Brooklyn lawmakers, including Sen. Simcha Felder, Simcha Eichenstein of the NYS Assembly, councilman Kalman Yeger, and Councilman Chaim Deutsch explained in a new statement on Tuesday why they are "appalled" by Cuomo's latest directive. Before the Cuomo administration again targets New Yorkers trying to live their lives, they need to get their own act together.
"He has chosen to pursue a scientifically and constitutionally questionable shutdown of our communities," the lawmakers write. "His administration's utter lack of coordination and communication with local officials has been an ongoing issue since the start of the pandemic, and particularly recently as we face this uptick."
Four men who represent parts of Brooklyn affected by @NYGovCuomo’s new restrictions — @NYSenatorFelder, @SEichenstein, @KalmanYeger and @ChaimDeutsch — said they were “appalled” by his plan and rhetoric toward Jewish communities they represent.https://t.co/eIJ1AoGoIq pic.twitter.com/pQUxefHieF— Jimmy Vielkind (@JimmyVielkind) October 7, 2020
The officials argue that the Cuomo administration has left them in the dark on discussions, excluding them from having any say in the "devastating decisions" they've made for the communities. They explain that Jewish community leaders had received a phone call telling them that synagogues in "red zones" would still be able to operate at 50 percent capacity, before announcing just hours later that he was just kidding and only 10 people were being permitted in houses of worship.
"For the last few hours I have been inundated with calls & emails from houses of worship, businesses, & community leaders," Councilman Deutsch added on Twitter. "Everyone is confused. Nobody has answers. This 'shutdown' has been utterly bungled. I am frustrated and angry at the irresponsible rollout by @NYGovCuomo."
Bill Blasio singled out Jewish communities this summer, more than once.
"Earlier today the NYPD shut down a Yeshiva conducting classes with as many as 70 children," the mayor tweeted in May. "I can’t stress how dangerous this is for our young people. We’re issuing a Cease and Desist Order and will make sure we keep our communities and our kids safe."
When both Democrats and Republicans questioned his tactics, he didn't apologize for targeting the Jewish neighborhoods. He doubled down.
"No, it's not happened in other places, lets' be honest," he responded.
There's plenty of criticism for these leaders to go around. New Yorkers who have lost loved ones in nursing homes have demanded an independent investigation into Gov. Cuomo's dangerous decision to force those facilities to accept recovering COVID patients. He's so far resisted those investigations.
In the meantime, he's about to release his book in which he describes how he successfully handled New York's COVID outbreak.