New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio defended his tweets criticizing a large Jewish funeral on Wednesday (April 29) at a briefing at which he also announced a program to provide 150,000 coronavirus antibody tests for health care workers and first responders.
De Blasio oversaw the dispersal of a large, tightly packed Hasidic Jewish funeral Tuesday night and lashed out at the mourners who had gathered in defiance of social distancing rules intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” de Blasio tweeted after police dispersed the funeral in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.
In another tweet, de Blasio said, “Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic.” He said he went there to ensure that the crowd was broken up and added, “what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus.”
Images posted on social media show hundreds of people on the street for what was reportedly a funeral for a rabbi who had died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Some but not all of the mourners wore face coverings.
There were no arrests, but Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday that a dozen summonses were issued citing social distancing violations and refusal to disperse.
Critics accused de Blasio of singling out the Orthodox Jewish community for censure when others have violated social distancing rules as well.
“This has to be a joke,” City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who represents a large Orthodox Jewish constituency, tweeted.
“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) being noncompliant??”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that generalizing about the whole Jewish population of New York City “is outrageous especially when so many are scapegoating Jews.”
Others noted the crowds that gathered earlier Tuesday to watch a flyover by the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds to honor health-care workers.
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Source: Religion News Service