AGUDAH TO NYC: TREAT US WITH RESPECT

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The following is an op-ed co-written by rabbi Chaim David Zwiebel and Avi Schick in the NY Daily News:

Yesterday, Jews across the world observed Yom Kippur. It was a day filled with prayer, introspection and commitment to improve. On more than a half-dozen occasions, we asked God to suppress plague and disease . . .  Anyone who ministers to a congregation knows that too often there is a disconnect between what we pray for and our behavior. We sincerely seek the end of the virus, but we are not yet doing all that we can to make that happen.

Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health experts have pointed to wearing a mask as the single most important step one can take to prevent the spread of the virus. There is no reason that mask compliance in the Orthodox community shouldn’t mirror that seen elsewhere across New York.

New York’s public health officials also need to reflect on their approach. Shaming is not a legitimate or effective tool. No other community is singled out and stereotyped as the Orthodox are. That too needs to change.

This summer saw day camps and daycare centers running without incident. When overnight camps were banned in New York State, many safely moved their operations to neighboring states. Synagogues resumed services. All this may have led to a false sense of security about a potential second wave. But instead of communication, the city’s Department of Health countered with criticism.  Fauci also offers a model of how public health officials should act during a pandemic. Engagement and building trust is what is necessary and what works.

There is also lingering distrust because of the different way the city treated the several hundred Hasidic mourners at an outdoor funeral at the very end of April and the far larger crowds righteously protesting the horrific murder of George Floyd a month later.

READ FULL OP-ED ON THE NY DAILY NEWS WEBSITE


22 COMMENTS

  1. treat rationalism with respect. get rid of anti-vaxers and those responsible for the second spiking. the mayor and governor are probably anti-semites, but let those whose hands are spotless lead the fight.

  2. “There is no reason that mask compliance in the Orthodox community shouldn’t mirror that seen elsewhere across New York. […] No other community is singled out and stereotyped as the Orthodox are.”

    Maybe that is because mask compliance in the Orthodox community doesn’t mirror what is seen elsewhere across New York?

  3. Fauci’s opinions have been all over the map, but he never went after Jews specifically as De Blasio loves to do. We won’t get respect from politicians until we throw some out of office.

  4. Sorry PaperBridge, I don’t care what the reason is but a city mayor in the USA cannot single out a community. I don’t know where you live but these are my sentiments. This man has spewed so much hate that I’m afraid to walk in any neighborhood that is not predominately Jewish for fear of being attacked because of the image he painted of my ppl. It doesn’t matter what our community has done in terms of compliance, this is unacceptable. Before he gets up at a briefing, he should go to the mirror and practice his speech by inserting Black, Latino, Italian, Muslim wherever he would say ‘Orthodox’ or ‘the community’. If it doesn’t sound right then he should not say it. He is racist and divisive. I feel like I live in Paris. The UAE is more friendly to Jews these days than NYC, and we have to call all this what it is.

  5. Maybe you should tell your followers to show respect and wear a mask you can say what you want while NYS infection rate is 1% the states areas of heavy frum communities have a rate of 5%
    So stop your bluster and get Brooklyn queens rockland and Orange County’s under control
    Respected is earned

  6. The reason they are singling out Jews is because when you look at the data it is basically similar but since the frum Jews don’t wear masks and their leaders don’t care to defend us we are singled out. Whever thinks masks work should look at the black and white data where people wear their masks glues to their faces have the same uptick in positive cases as well as death rates. Numbers don’t play politics and don’t lie and hate.

  7. The frum community definitely needs to mask up. But DeBlasio is a sick Anti-Semite. There is no way he’d be able to single out blacks or Muslims in the manner he does the Jews.

  8. 147 your hate of Frum people is palpable and less than 24 hrs after Yom hakippurim. You probably talk about ahavat Yisroel for every color Jew but for the Frum ppl you’ll never talk and will never have ahavat Yisroel. Fraud

  9. I disagree with nothing you have said, shprintzi. I don’t support political officials singling out communities when managing (or mismanaging) crises, and I oppose stereotyping. I was just observing the inherent irony in saying, “Gee, it’s bizarre and indefensible for our community to fail to abide by the simple health guidelines that everyone else is shouldering,” and then going on and saying, “Hey, why is our community being singled out?!” I didn’t mean to suggest that public officials are /entitled/ to singling out any community in either their statements or their enforcement methods. I agree that they aren’t.

    You are also right that I do not live in New York City, a place with a long and troubled history of city mayors singling out ethic, religious, and racial sub-populations with public statements and enforcement methods. It must have been particularly hard on you when Guliani was mayor of your city, as I’m sure you will agree that his tendency to single out sub-populations in official rhetoric and policy was egregious.

  10. Coffee addict,

    Like you, I really enjoy coffee and drink al lot of it. And like you, I have seen goyim walking outside without masks. But tell me, what are you talking about? I did not say anything even suggesting anything different. It was R’ Zwiebel and Schick who said that the behavior of the Orthodox community does not mirror that of everyone else and then wondered why that community has been singled out. I am just pointing out the irony of the comment, since they themselves provide the reason. I have no basis to asses the accuracy of their statement, because I have not visited New York City since the pandemic began. Perhaps they are mistaken and the behavior of the Orthodox community rather closely reflects that of the general population. Maybe that is your view. Take it up with them, not with me.

  11. Paper Bridge,
    Here in Midwood, on Y”K 90% of the Jews walking to and from shul were wearing masks. In my walks throughout the day I saw hundreds of non-Jews, of which a MINISCULE number were wearing masks. Masks were never supposed to be worn when one is outside and can keep a reasonable distance from another person.
    It was so obvious that only Jews were wearing masks that we kept mentioning that it felt like a Jewish star.
    I also work in several Jewish schools here and can tell you that they are doing their best. Children and staff are wearing PPE, they spent thousands of dollars on plexiglass and other solutions, and are going into quarantine when there’s a suspected contact – BEYOND what the CDC suggests. I know of a child who did not test positive, but spent a short while with someone who did. As soon as he found out, the class was closed – despite not being exposed to COVID.
    Stop blaming the Jews. They are doing their best, like most communities, to keep the infection rate down.
    When you open schools, have the high holidays, shop in the same groceries, you WILL see a rise in the infection rate. Wait until the city opens their schools. Are they going to blame those infections on the Jews too?
    This kind of rhetoric enforces anti semitic tropes which are alive and well among American youth. Seeing DeBlasio and Cuomo repeatedly go at the Jewish community and spread misinformation by putting cameras in our communities to find the few who aren’t masked just gives credence to those lies.

  12. In addition, every single person in my shul wore a mask the entire day. Proper distancing precautions were taken, occupation was cut by hundreds and we were given the psak that we should use purell as necessary.
    You are so quick to judge the Jews, when there are hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish people who go out and flout the guidelines. The fact that we’re an easily identifiable group that also happens to live in crowded or close knit communities shouldn’t make us a target And neither should the fact that we’re Jewish.
    NYS and NYC leaders are blatantly anti-semitic and it would be best if you’d do your due diligence in ensuring that their accusations are valid before attacking your own.

  13. Can there be any justification for continuing to hold crowded, indoor minyanim with elderly and other high-risk individuals in attendance? For continuing to otherwise act in complete defiance of both reality as well as numerous injunctions from our own Torah? (If this is not the reality surrounding you, Ashreinu…; consider yourself blessed.)

    I would not disagree with encouraging and even, where prudent, enforcing the wearing of masks in situations where adequate distancing is not practical. But mask-wearing (which, short of N-95-type equipment, properly-fitted*, is far from fully or certainly effective) is no substitute for basic distancing and other common-sense precautions, and must not be allowed to provide a false sense of complacency and security. (*Not possible over a beard, at least with any of the ordinary masks readily found on the market.)

    Why are there still major frum communities where, at a minimum, outdoor minyanim have not resumed? Doesn’t all the evidence strongly suggest that the risk of contracting of the virus outdoors is at least far less than it is indoors?

  14. They dont say the comm isnt.they just say theres no reason they shouldnt be…sorta like were not excusing for anyone thats not but…still officials shouldnt be singling out…..

  15. “righteously protesting the horrific murder of George Floyd”
    Really??? Even if it was a blatant murder there is NO evidence or reason to assume or establish that he was killed because he was black. Trying to score points by the BLM/NYC ‘progressive’ crowd?
    Where is Moshe Sherrer when we need him…?

  16. lbj:- Just because of my intense אהבת-ישראל especially for the Frum, hence that it pains me to no end that they don’t take adequate of themselves and are so callous to deny themselves face masks & social distancing, which would be so beneficial & helpful for them.
    So less than 24 hrs after it is you ibj who was דן לכף חוב

  17. The reason why we don’t wear masks is because covid hasn’t been around from lag baomer until selichos. Yet, the geniuses in charge forbade shuls until past shavous (with ridiculous rules), refused to allow camps to open and have kept our yeshiva closed until the summer. Now that covid is back, we just don’t trust our politicians. The only ones who can request masks are our rabbonim, the ones who we know and trust.

  18. Before we should demand that an antisemite that is Deblasio show us respect, we should demand that our own people show respect for each other. Not only in NY and NJ have frum areas seen a spike in cases, but also in the Chareidi areas in Israel. Numbers don’t lie.

  19. [To replace previous]
    Should any crowded, indoor minyanim with elderly and other high-risk individuals in attendance continue to be held? Can there be any justification for continuing to otherwise act in complete defiance of both reality as well as numerous injunctions from our own Torah? Can there be any justification for every neighborhood and kehilah not, at a minimum, establishing outdoor minyanim– at least for those at heightened risk? (Doesn’t all the evidence strongly suggest that the risk of contracting the virus is greatly reduced when outdoors?)

    BETWEEN THE EXTREMES: REASONABLE MIDDLE GROUND

    Certainly, the elderly and others at heightened risk should be isolated. And infected and symptomatic individuals should be quarantined. For the rest of the population, however, the apparently relatively low risks posed by the WuHan (“COVID”) virus must be weighed against the very real, considerable and in many cases severe damage and other risks– no less serious– that are created by the level of restrictions demanded by many in government (particularly Democrat Mayors and Governors, such as DeBlasio and Cuomo). Both economic as well as social considerations are highly intertwined with ones of health. Destroyed livelihoods inevitably lead to destroyed lives. Social isolation

    MASKING REALITY? BEWARE SELF-DECEPTION

    Short of professional-grade equipment (such as N95), properly-fitted*, it is not clear how much protection wearing a mask provides. By all means, people should wear one (as properly-fitted as you can manage) in situations where adequate distancing is not an option but to think that is sufficient would be to deceive oneself.
    (*Not possible over a beard.)

  20. I mistakenly submitted my previous post before completing my middle paragraph.

    Excessive social isolation affects mental health, often severely. Confinement with others creates a number of serious problems and dangers, and indeed increases in both domestic abuse as well as suicide during the lockdowns have been reported.

  21. @kinsler: Indeed, that parroting of the thoroughly discredited (and utterly tendentious to begin with) Woke Narrative concerning “Saint” George Floyd that you quoted from the op-ed was cringe-inducing. Floyd died while violently resisting arrest, and with a lethal dose of Fentanyl in his blood. There is no evidence that he was even killed, let alone murdered by the police. Nor, as you pointed-out, that consideration of Mr. Floyd’s race factored into the behavior of any of the officers involved.

    And the characterization “righteously protesting“?! No doubt some or even many of the individuals-in-question were non-violent (and therefore could legitimately be called mere protesters). But if sincere and well-intentioned, then they were (a) duped by the false and pernicious narrative advanced by BLM and ANTIFA, and (b) providing cover, even if unwittingly, for the savage anarchy and violence that said terrorist and radical organizations exist to foment. Floyd’s death was but a pretext.