DENIED! Judge Rules Cuomo COVID-19 Restrictions In NYC Can Go Forward

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Today, a federal judge refused to issue a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of Governor Cuomo’s executive order which restricts religious worship in various parts of the State of New York.

Earlier this week, in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the governor promulgated an executive order severely restricting the use of houses of worship in predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, going so far as to impose a 10 person maximum in so-called “red zones.”

Agudath Israel, together with associated synagogues and rabbis, yesterday filed for injunctive relief in federal court, noting the need for immediate relief in light of the fact that in the three holiday days of Hoshanah Rabbah (today), and Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah (October 10th and 11th, respectively), the executive order would make it impossible for Orthodox Jews to worship as their religion intends.

The Agudah filing was clear that social distancing, masking, and other measures against COVID-19 transmission would and should still be actively encouraged and performed. At the same time, it made the point that it is eminently possible to allow more than ten people to pray in a large shul building and still use safe protocols to stem disease transmission.

In her decision today, Federal District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto rejected Agudath Israel’s request for a temporary restraining order. In her opinion, the damage inflicted by Governor Cuomo’s executive order was not “irreparable.” She pointed to the fact that houses of worship were locked down in the early phases of the pandemic and that religious practitioners dealt with it.

“This ruling is disappointing, to say the least,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel. “Of course we understand the importance of taking precautionary measures against COVID-19, but there are ways to do so without totally disrupting our ability to use our shuls. Looking ahead, we will continue to do all in our power to defend our constituents’ rights, while at the same time promoting all appropriate health protocols.”

Agudah Chairman of the Board Shlomo Werdiger expressed his regret over the ruling, and called upon Governor Cuomo and other governmental officials to be more solicitous of the community’s legitimate religious needs. “Whether the issue relates to our shuls, or to our yeshivos, or to anything that is essential to us as a religious community, we appeal to our elected officials and executive agencies to work with us collaboratively in developing policies that both ensure good health and allow us to practice our faith. It shouldn’t be necessary to have to fight these things out in court.”

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45 COMMENTS

  1. Amazing thank you so much Agudas Yisroel!

    It is wrong for the government to go from 0-60 in a moment without reaching out to community leaders! As for the governent less restrictions but consistent enforcement earlier would be far more effective and humane!

    As for our ppl. We shouldnt need goverment enforcement to do the right thing. We are a nation that usually has a lot of seichal.

    I wonder if educating the public on exactly why masks are so important, especially within indoor mass gatherings, would help or is it that ppl don’t want to get educated because they don’t want to do the right thing?

    I think its a big Chilul Hashem that it got to this point!

    This virus is primarily spread with droplets. When we speak and even breath we release moist droplets into the air from our moist nasal and oral cavities. Droplets fall to the ground after six feet of distance. A barrier such as a mask helps to stop and block a droplet from going into the surrounding air. 2 ppl wearing a mask is an added protection, as both masks can help block the droplet from becoming the air that the next person breaths. Therefore, everyone wearing masks, ppl standing six feet from one another and ppl trying not to talk while directly facing eachother helps reduce transmission. This is the basic Derech Hateveh facts!

    Remember, Unfortunately, with this virus many ppl are infectious but have no symptoms!

    Why is everyone refusing to comply with common sense safety precautions that protect our community first and foremost?

    Why are we refusing to understand?

    Is it simply because we find it an inconvenience?

    I think not risking one persons life is worth that inconvenience!

    Aren’t we the community that thousands will join in the efforts to find a child that is lost, or to save a life and so on.

    That is what wearing masks is!

    By not wearing masks we look like hypocrites!

    We made this happen to us, we proved to the government that we cannot be trusted! This is a big Chilul Hashem!

    To the world, it is black and white. To the world, not wearing a mask (especially in indoor mass gatherings) means that you don’t value ppls lives and you don’t care that you are risking ppl’s lives.

    Please wake up and see this for what it is!

  2. I have heard reports on the radio that frum Jews demonstrating in Boro Park are accusing Governor Cuomo of anti-Semitism. Cuomo may be wrong about his orders for shul closures, wrong about his strategy for containing the coronavirus, but as far as I know, he is not an anti-Semite. False accusations of anti-Semitism are a serious a threat to Jews. If you have proof – real proof, not unfounded inferences – make them public when you accuse any politician, or anybody else, of anti-Semitism. Otherwise, shut up.

  3. Kudos to Agudah for a nice oetter explaining our position but where are our LEADERS to denounce TISHLER and the violence that occured in BP??Whatta disgraceful Chilul Hashem! Stopping traffic and screaming lehavdil like the BLM. Thats not what Hashem wants from us! JEWS LIVES MATTER! They sure do! Yet we need to SHUSH UP AND REMMBER THAT WERE ALL GALUS YIDDEN!
    And another thing. Hello Rabbis from BP! Aren’t these protests worthy of a rebuke? It went viral and caused a national storm “about the unrest of Orthodox Jews”. If our “spiritual” leaders can come together to denounce smartphones, where are they when our youth is causing a despicable chilul Hashem?! This is abhorrent!!!

  4. huju, you are the last person to preach about.”accusations of anti-Semitism”. i wish you apply the same standards to Trump you demand from us to apply to dirt-bag Cuomo. it is OK with you Democrat hypocrites to lie about Trump being a Nazi but spare your fellow Marxist Democrats from any criticism when most of them a real Jew-haters backed up by real facts. Just ask Nazi Pelosy about defending Ilhan Omar and BLM.

  5. Huju
    Cuomo has posted the positive test rates of the “Jewish Zipcodes” on twitter.
    These positivity rates are not accepted by any statistician as an accurate depiction of the positivity rates within the general community. It JUST accounts for those who are tested. No research would be considered valid if it used these “statistics”. The data is incomplete and inconclusive. He is presenting it as fact to isolate, demean, and oppress our communities.
    In addition, he is isolating the Jews as a test group. There are other areas, namely the Bronx, which are currently presenting high positivity rates and he is not hanging them out for all to see and criticize.
    There is also A LOT more compliance happening, even in these neighborhoods, than he is presenting to the general public. At his behest, health inspectors visited Yeshivos; they found use of PPE, following and even exceeding CDC recommended best practice. He still closed the schools – and that was before YT.
    The way he is presenting this as an “issue with the Orthodox Jewish community” is causing anti Semitism from the public. Just this morning, a non-Jew called me a “super spreader”. I quarantined from March until June – didn’t leave my house ONCE. I haven’t gone anywhere without a mask since – and not because I’m deathly afraid of contracting the virus, but because I respect other’s concerns about it.
    The VAST MAJORITY of Jews and our establishments are carefully following guidelines and wearing masks. Why does he keep bringing it up? The fact that he’s labeling the Jews using false claims and incomplete data reeks of anti Semitism. Hitler also “cared about public health”. He also said those Jews spread diseases and therefore we must keep them put away. According to the 2018 FBI hate crime statistics, we faced 56.9% of all religious based hate crimes in the US despite being less than 2% of the population. The hate crimes have only increased since then.
    An anti-Semite doesn’t need to state his hate out in the open to be an anti-Semite. His actions speak for themselves. They are intentional, inciteful and he knows it.

  6. While I respect the right of the parties to file a lawsuit, on the non-legal end, I believe Agudath Israel and the Chasidishe communities need to take much more responsibility for the flaws of some of the community, and make fundamental changes in education.

    Who is responsible for the education of a crowd in Boro Park that sang “All the wicked should be cut!”, or “min darf eim hargenen”, we need to kill him for Getz/Kornbluh respectively? See Gemara Sukkah–inyana d’yoma–regarding Miriam the daughter of Bilgah, “that a child’s words are invariably something that is repeated from what he or she heard at home”, or Rav Dessler’s idea that “had the people as a whole been sufficiently sensitive to the Divine commandment to shun the city’s spoils, Achan would never have been able to commit his sin”, which R. Avi Shafran wrote about regarding a July, 2009 chilul hashem? The Chazon Ish called the leaders of Zeirei Agudath Israel together and told them to publicly protest the actions of the “zealots.” And he had his treasured spokesman Rabbi Moshe Shoenfeld write an essay for publication entitled, “Violence is a Foreign Offshoot in Our Vineyard.”(Jonathan Rosenblum).

    Where is the attitude that we care about our neighbors so we don’t make large weddings(the federal corona czar made the point that we don’t live in an island, in the NY Post)? What about certain Chasidishe rabbis in Israel flouting social distancing? The Noverminsker Rebbe, indeed responsibly criticized Boro Park protests in 1999 after Gideon Bush shooting and in 2006 after another incident(on a separate note, the Agudah statement about not shortening Rosh Hashanah tefilos while maintaining social distancing was confusing).

    Sadly, the community has what to correct, even as it acted very admirably regarding plasma donations. Rav Mayer Twerski of YU has consistently been calling for public soul searching about the lax health attitude since March. Dr. David Pelcovitz, at a Torah in Motion medical conference in May, had strong praise for Agudah’s and Chasidishe health efforts whose askanim complained and cried to him that “we can’t control some of our balei batim/community members” who want to pray, but he also had criticism of a fatal contempt for science among some, and an ignorant and arrogant attitude, some sending mixed messages, and a shallow view of spirituality which Rav Shlomo Wolbe refers to as “Frumkeit” which led to health violations during Covid.

    There is thus room for fundamental changes in both religious and secular education which Agudah and the Chasidishe community need to responsibly publicly acknowledge, in my opinion.

  7. @huju when you take arbitrary and capricious actions targeting Jews that is anti-semitism. WHen you have press conferences which include false and misleading statements and images targeting the jewish community and blaming the jewish community that is anti-semitism. If it was a single non-egregious instance i would agree that we should avoid throwing around accusations of anti-Semitism but its not. IT’s repeated harrassment and arbitrary and capricious targeting of the Jewish community.

  8. Miriam: Why are packed airplanes ok? Why are BLM protests ok and even encouraged? Why is ok to have people stand together and shop together on lines and in stores? So WHY IS IT NOT OK TO HAVE MORE THAN 10 PEOPLE IN SHUL?!

  9. Jews of NY…. what will it take to convince you that’s it’s time to move out of NY( preferably to Eretz Yisrael) We all know history repeats itself but it never repeats itself in the same manner as it did in the past. So if you’re waiting for another Kristallnacht, don’t wait. Don’t worry about your homes, cars, summer camps for your kids, houses in the Catskills!! My grandparents were wealthy in pre WWII Eastern Europe. They didn’t want to give up their luxuries in 1939. I would have loved to have met them. They didn’t survive…. so much for 2020 Honda Odyssey, Sienna, Lexus, Pesach getaways in Florida, Arizona, Portugal, Italy etc. Don’t make the same mistake.

  10. @common sence – When my kids get into a verbal argument and one of them gets physical, of course I address the escalation as a major issue. But I spend most of my time helping them figure out how the fight started and what can be done to avoid it in the future. The nimshal is obvious: The governor and mayor have each escalated the issue inappropriately and harmed our community. They have also been reluctant to evenly enforce the law with BLM protests. The appropriate response should be legal/written, and forceful, with truly peaceful protests organized by and attended by our rabbanim, not glory-seeking fools. The ‘anti-semitism’ accusation has been overused and abused to the point that we shouldn’t use it unless we are sure that it is happening and we should use it carefully, not as a street mob.

    But the real issue here is how this all got started. I think it is obvious to any honest person that a not-insignificant percentage of people and institutions in our communities have blatantly flouted the law and the recommendations from an overwhelming majority of medical professionals. I have seen this in my own shul, with the Rov (who I love and respect) declaring masks optional in August and not adhering to occupancy limits and distancing since July. I have seen this in my kids’ school (one of the largest in the tri-state area) with teachers and principals openly telling the kids they don’t believe in masking and are only doing this to avoid getting shut down. Guess if that helped compliance. I have seen this as countless unmasked and non-distanced indoor simchas were held (go through the back entrance please, the lights will be out in the front of the building)….. WE HAVE A PROBLEM. We (the mob) think we are smarter than everybody, including our doctors and our rabbanim. And our rabbanim are unfortunately (and justifiably) afraid of the mob. As are our institutions such as the Agudah (which is a wonderful organization). Why did we let it get to the point that the media can easily find CURRENT pictures of mass unmasked gatherings (think 770)? Each of us has a responsibility to use our seichal, avoid believing every yenta story (COVID can be cured by garlic, masks are harmful, hospitals earn money for positive cases so they falsify results, COVID is a giant anti-semitic conspiracy, etc.), and start acting like responsible human beings.

  11. Unfortunately our governor and mayor are targeting and singling out the Jewish community. Most of it is baseless statistics. So yes, we should call it out as it is and see it for what it is. Thanks, Aguda, for being our voice, respectfully. And as a community working together in Achdus, we can accomplish so much more. HASHEM SHOULD HELP US ALL.

  12. Big A.
    IT IS NOT OK! But r u comparing us with lowlife bums looting the streets?! Or people on planes that are irresponsible?? They dont get scrutinized as we Jews do. Its unfortunate yet a reality. We are Galus Yiddn albeit became too complacent with our local officials. They dont like us. They never did. BUT!
    WE are the Am Hanivchar, the chosen nation and need to come together and denounce ANY AND ALL violence against the govt.
    Cuomo is absolutely doing a despicable act. Nobody is questioning his motives or targeting yet WE Jews still have to know that WE are different than lehavdil BLM. Its as simple as that.

  13. The limiting of shuls to 10 people is arbitrary and mindless and shows the true colors of Cuomo / Deblasio. After all, what sense does it make when in the same neighborhood you have a shul with a capacity of over 500 people allowed the same 10 people as a shtiebel with a capacity of about 30.

  14. @ git meshige
    Can you bring scientific proof that masks work?

    I shop at Walmart and other large chain stores, yes people wear masks, but many push it down exposing their nose…

    Many of them wear masks that wouldn’t stop anything

    Meanwhile doctors in our neighborhoods followed the EVIL liberals in the government and refused to save yidden’s lives with treatments that have been proven to work

    Have you seen the government try to help the people by asking them to take supplements that have shown to help?
    No!

    Israel had a relatively successful first shutdown yet they are suffering now. What were they thinking lockdowns and masks will last forever?

  15. Mr. Ploni,
    So because our shuls are closed unfairly during a pandemic, we must relocate to Israel, where more violence occurs against Jews than anywhere else on Earth? Car rammings, shootings, knife attacks, rock and brick throwing, incendiary balloons, rockets, home-made bombs, you name it. More than the rest of Earth put together, in fact. Sage advice Ploni Almoni, sage advice.
    I love when Zionists let their true feelings for their fellow Jews shine forth. As long as the Israeli government retaliates for every attack against a Jew, they are happy.

  16. Want to blow it all up?!

    We got Democrat governors Cuomo Murphy of all people to show steep heavily active concern for human life with all positive Ripples and repercussions probable in the coming years !?

    Wish to bear the enormous culpability for causing them throwing sooner in the towel?!

  17. Want to blow it all up?!

    We got Democrat governors Cuomo Murphy of all people to show steep heavily active concern for human life with all positive Ripples and repercussions probable in the coming years !?

    Wish to bear the enormous culpability for causing them throwing in the towel?!

  18. fascinating that in 2 generations the Orthodox Jewish community has gone from that is respectful and thankful for the United States to one that has some crazy misplaced sense of entitlement.

  19. We need to make sure that we respond to the mayor and governor y”sh in November with a bloc vote that trashes Dems. Don’t give me the baloney that if they see us supporting them they will be nice to us. We tried that. It was futile. They use every opportunity to hate us and discriminate. Can’t wait to observe their misa meshunah. Their downfall in politics will be basis for a celebration for Klal Yisroel. Askanim – don’t get caught in their mapalah.

  20. With all respect to Agudah, they asked for it. Accept the governors gezeira! Yes, its absolutely abhorrent and targeted but u keep on missing the fact that we’re in Galus and we were too complacent.
    Fighting for our human rights does not mean landing a governor in court. How dumb cld anyone be to think that these liberal judges wont allow the governor to do as he pleases? Yes a Rasha but we’re in Galus and shuld shush up and listen and throw Tishler off the streets so we dont get unnecessary negative comments thrown at us.
    Its a Busha how we behave!!

  21. To M. in Galus
    If you really believed that you were in Galus, you would not say such words.
    Did your Rav (if you have one) give you a heter to speak falsely about Governor Cuomo.
    You are calling Mrs. Pelosi a very terrible name. I am not her fan, but I think that you need to stop waisting time with your comments and google videos of the true Holocaust just to get a tiny picture who were the real nazis. You sound like the Fake news because everything you said is not true.

  22. Until the jews start using the tactics of Martin Luther King and others- nothing will change. Of course we must daven, we must change and we must also fight vigorously without violence and with masks.We must organize consistent mass protests until they give up and go away.

  23. It was a good try but the numbers just were not on the Agudah’s side. Cuomo also covered himself by closing all religious institutions in the affected areas, not just the yeshivas and the shuls. Not having done so might have given that bias argument more strength. I understand the Catholics have also sued Cuomo, claiming their numbers aren’t up, they shouldn’t be closed.

    If only people would wear the masks.

  24. Why dont we discuss the concept that we are being shut because of positive tests percentage?? The ppl taking tests are the ppl not feeling well..While acknowledging that the virus is back in our community and we need to take proper action and precaution we dont need the gov to shut our schools and shuls…REMEMBER THE METRICS? Hospitilazation rate, ICU admission rate, death rate…. You dont shut the world on positive rates alone…Yes the virus is back in our community unfortunately -thank god the drs and scientists have better treatment plans and continue improving…the virus is not going anywhere..we need to learn how to fight it not shut the world!

  25. to the square: Have you ever met Mr. Ploni???? If not don’t just start calling people Zionists. Just because people have a opinion that living in Erety Yisrael is better then here that makes them a Zionist?????

  26. The fact that the orthodox community is managing to totally disgrace the name of Hashem – by rioting, by jeopardizing public health, and by failing to hold ourselves accountable for these disgraces is ironically, nebech, a great zechus in shamayim for all of the Jews who don’t observe the Torah. How could Hashem blame any Jew or other person who watches this scandalous behavior for not recognizing that the Torah is Emes! The only people who could be blamed for not upholding the Torah are those among us who do nothing to stem the chilul Hashem and the reckless endangerment of community health. Our first true priority should be to clean up our own act, rather than whining about the government’s response to our chillul Hashem! Even if there is a basis to complain about Cuomo’s edict, obsessing on that to distract from our serious internal problems is an egregious copout!

  27. To my critics: I have never said Trump is a Nazi. Crying “Nazi” whenever public officials – American, Israeli, even German – do something that inconveniences Jews is inapplicable to any public official who has not proposed the eradication of the Jews. Crying “Nazi” is as bad as crying “anti-Semite” when it is inapplicable.

  28. To the comment bad mouthing Governor Cuomo:
    I heard behind the grape vine, that if Mr. Biden wins, he might appoint Governor Cuomo for the Attorney General. He was told that he has to lower the rate of infection from this virus in New York. The infections in New York are skyrocketing. The Governor is being asked to take action ASAP to slow down this virus.
    This has nothing to do with antisemitism.

  29. Want to get out from under the heavy hand of an all-powerful government? Just vote with your feet! Move to Florida where your religious rights are going to be respected. And as an added bonus, we have nice Orthodox communities, no state income tax, and low property taxes, and warm weather in January. Just don’t bring your Democratic politics with you.