NY City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Tuesday night: “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.”


The mayor was irate over the gathering of hundreds of Haredi Jews at the intersection of Rutledge Street and Bedford Avenue for the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz. Images from the funeral show that the crowd was much bigger than the maximum allowance for 50 participants as per NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order. The mourners were squeezed together on the sidewalks, paying no heed to the social distancing rules. Most of them wore masks, but a few didn’t.

“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,” Mayor de Blasio tweeted.

“We have lost so many these last two months + I understand the instinct to gather to mourn. But large gatherings will only lead to more deaths + more families in mourning. We will not allow this. I have instructed the NYPD to have one standard for this whole city: zero tolerance,” the mayor said.

The mayor’s press secretary, Freddi Goldstein, tweeted: “I empathize with the desire to mourn those we’ve lost, but this is absolutely unacceptable. The Mayor is on the scene and the NYPD is breaking this up.”

Freelance reported Reuven Blau uploaded several images from the crowded funeral, and noted that the deceased, Rabbi Mertz, was a coronavirus victim.

The Yeshiva World, in an article headlined “DOUBLE STANDARD: Deblasio & NYPD Break Up Massive Funeral But Ignore Massive Airshow Crowds,” asked “But where was the NYPD and Mayor Deblasio when tens of thousands of New Yorkers were packed into parks and other locations to watch the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels today?”

True enough, as popular rightwing commentator Ben Shapiro put it: “I can’t imagine de Blasio saying this about any other community. It’s pretty amazing. And for the record, MANY of the leaders of the Jewish community have taken strong stands on social distancing.”

Who knew Haredi Jews stand out more as a crowd than New Yorkers watching an air show in the park? Jewish community activist Isaac Abraham noted: “To run back to City Hall and send a tweet – this is kicking your friend when they’re down. Way down.”

Update: On Wednesday, the mayor semi-apologized for singling out the Jewish community and said that many in the Jewish leadership are helping to enforce and encourage following the rules, “I spoke last night out of passion… I could not believe my eyes, it was deeply deeply distressing… I regret if the way I said in any way gave people [that] feeling … But it was tough love.”


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David writes news at JewishPress.com.