New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tweets last night about a large funeral that took place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn created a maelstrom of protest. They gave the impression that he saw the Jewish community, in particular, as flouting rules of social distancing in this challenging time.
The mayor expressed regret this morning for the way his words were taken. We agree with that sentiment.
No matter how well-intentioned the Mayor might be, words that could be seized upon by bigots and anti-Semites must be avoided at all costs.
The Jewish community as a whole, and the Orthodox Jewish community in particular, are heeding social distancing rules, including at funerals. In fact, weeks ago, Agudath Israel shared clear guidelines for funerals and burials developed by the National Association of Chevra Kadisha (NASCK); guidelines that were patently violated by last night’s funeral.
While we at Agudath Israel keenly understand the deep grief over the loss of a beloved leader, the health and safety of our community, neighbors, and that of our dedicated law enforcement officers must always be our highest priority.