There are estimates more than 2000 members of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York gathered Tuesday for the funeral of a Hasidic rabbi who died of the coronavirus. From the pictures and video, it’s clear mourners weren’t social distancing, not to mention following the ban on gatherings of any size.
Tipster says this is the Williamsburg funeral today of Rabbi Chaim Mertz who died from COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/wsTvCrlzpb
— Reuven Blau (@ReuvenBlau) April 29, 2020
NBC New York says, “The mayor himself went to those streets with police officers to help break up the gathering and he took to Twitter afterward to voice his frustrations with the lack of social distancing.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted:
Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic. When I heard, I went there myself to ensure the crowd was dispersed. And what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus
But he didn’t stop there and a second tweet he fired off is being called offensive. Instead of focusing on this one funeral or reminding everyone that there is a ban on large gatherings, de Blasio took the opportunity to single out and warn the entire Jewish community (note that the Hasidic community makes up just about 5% of the Jewish population worldwide).
This has to be a joke. Did the Mayor of NYC really just single out one specific ethnic community (a community that has been the target of increasing hate crimes in HIS city) as being noncompliant?? Has he been to a park lately? (What am I saying – of course he has!) https://t.co/LYKnUZm2Mc
— Councilman Deutsch (@ChaimDeutsch) April 29, 2020
NYC Councilman Chaim Deutsch went out to say: “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. I’m truly stunned.”
There are also questions over why the mayor didn’t seem to have an issue with crowds earlier in the day when the Blue Angels fly over the city.
The Blue Angels flyover in NY City today was beautiful, but I didn’t see any outrage over the lack of social distancing. That reaction is reserved for Jewish weddings & funerals. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but only one wrong makes the news and the condemnation of politicians. pic.twitter.com/zRqVg2RGLY
— Joel M. Petlin (@Joelmpetlin) April 29, 2020
Mr. de Blasio’s press secretary, Freddi Goldstein, disputed the suggestion that the mayor’s comments reflected a double standard in enforcing social-distancing rules.
“The mayor has been one of the staunchest supporters of the Jewish community since his earliest days in public service,” Ms. Goldstein said in a statement. “There were thousands of people gathered today, putting their lives and the lives of others at risk. It is his responsibility to all New Yorkers to speak up.”
De Blasio responded to the controversy this morning.
After overseeing the dispersal of hundreds of Hasidic mourners in Brooklyn, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he has “a lot of love” for the Orthodox Jewish community.
He added that gathering in large numbers during a pandemic is "unacceptable" and won’t be allowed in any community pic.twitter.com/H43Mt87V80
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 29, 2020
Watch more from the ABC affiliate in New York City.