‘They can’t stop us’: New York Jews burn masks, protest ‘disgraceful’ corona orders

“We are appalled by Governor Cuomo’s words and actions today. He has chosen to pursue a scientifically and constitutionally questionable shutdown of our communities,” said a joint statement.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

Masses of religious Jews in Brooklyn took to the streets Tuesday night to protest New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus orders which limit synagogue attendance to 10 people and close non-essential businesses and schools in select neighborhoods.

Many of the protests centered around 13th Avenue in Boro Park and lasted into the early morning hours Wednesday.

A crowd burned a pile of face masks in the street at the intersection of 13th Avenue and 46th Street. The fire department later extinguished the flames.

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Activist and radio host Heshy Tischler tweeted, “Listen up @NYGovCuomo & @NYCMayor, I will be protesting until you will stop playing these stupid political games, we are all sick and tired of this junk.”

Tischler announced another protest for Wednesday evening. He specified that this time there are to be “zero fires.”

New York City Councilman Kalman Yeger told the crowd, “We are not going to be deprived the right that we have in America like everybody else in America, the right to observe our religion, the right to do it freely, the right to do it without government interference.”

“I don’t care who in government thinks that they can stop us. They’re wrong. Let them try,” he said.

Yeger issued a joint statement Tuesday with Senator Simcha Felder, Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, and Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

“We are appalled by Governor Cuomo’s words and actions today. He has chosen to pursue a scientifically and constitutionally questionable shutdown of our communities,” the statement said.

The statement called Cuomo’s actions “a duplicitous bait-and-switch,” after he had originally told community leaders that synagogues would be permitted to operate at 50% capacity, and then just hours later announced “a draconian return to restrictions that would shutter thousands of New York businesses and limit houses of worship to a maximum capacity of 10.”

“Governor Cuomo’s choice to single out a particular religious group, complete with a slideshow of photos to highlight his point, was outrageous. His language was dangerous and divisive, and left the implication that Orthodox Jews alone are responsible for rising COVID cases in New York State,” the statement said.

The statement described the community as “rightfully shocked, angered, and highly frustrated,” and said that it is “disgraceful” for Cuomo to target the Jewish community during the holiday of Sukkot.

“Americans are constitutionally permitted to worship freely, and Governor Cuomo may be assured that we intend to exercise that right without his interference. G-d Bless America,” the statement concluded.

Agudath Israel of America, an Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, issued a statement Tuesday, calling Cuomo’s orders “appalling to all people of religion and good faith.”

“Agudath Israel intends to explore all appropriate measures to undo this deeply offensive action,” said the organization, which has taken legal action against the governor’s orders in the past.