Statement From Tola’as Shul Explains Unfortunate Incident At Levaya Of Rebbe


The following statement was provided to YWN following the Levaya on Tuesday night which has now become a national story – thanks to the double standard of Mayor Deblasio. As YWN reported, Deblasio singled out the Jewish community in NYC by name, but ignored the tens of thousands of New Yorkers that packed parks in NYC to watch the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels fly over NYC just hours earlier.

April 29, 2020

We regret that the funeral today of our Rabbi of blessed memory ended in chaos and in controversy, and we feel that it’s incumbent on us to explain what happened.

Our Rabbi was revered by thousands as a holy, humble and caring person, and they wanted to participate in the funeral. We came up with a plan to have many streets closed, so that people participate and walk the coffin while following the social distancing rules and wearing masks. People walk the streets daily, thus, a funeral – we thought – shouldn’t be different, as long the rules are followed. Unfortunately, this didn’t pan out, and NYPD had to disperse the crowds.

We shall note that everyone followed the police officers’ orders and the vast majority had masks. Yet, the confusion and chaos led to scenes of large crowds.

We understand Mayor Bill de Blasio’s frustration and his speaking out against the gathering. As said, we thought that the procession will be in accordance with the rules, and we apologize that it turned out otherwise. It also hurts that this led to singling out the Jewish community, and for that we apologize to all Jewish people. We know that the mayor’s reaction came from his concern to the health of safety of our community and the entire city, and it wasn’t ill-intentioned. We share that concern. Health and live takes precedence to anything else, and we shall all follow those rules.


Jacob Mertz – Secretary.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


  1. Jacob Mertz is a wise man.
    Instead of blasting the mayor, he admitted that the situation could have been better , but without ill intent, it didn’t work out that way.
    The ones comparing the mayor’s response to this levaya to his non-response concerning the flyover are not wise. They are using a violation of the rules to justify their own violation. They might as well hire a flyover whenever they want to endanger themselves and the public., and then blame someone else, causing Chilul Hashem.

  2. excuses ahein and excuses ahare, but Jews in Brooklyn are dying almost an order of magnitude more often. Understand that no one would rely on rules

  3. HUGE Chillul Hashem.. that I have to open AOL mail and it shows the difficulties the NYPD had with breaking up this funeral. HUGE. And, the article QUOTES The Yeshiva World… This is absurd and disgusting.

    Shame on EVERY SINGLE PERSON who went to this funeral. Shame on you!

  4. they are wearing masks and for that they deserve credit, but this double standard business with the mayor has no place in our society. We should be above the letter of the law especially since we have seen CHALLILAH what this virus has done to our community. and of course the chillul Hashem aspect, but life and death matters come before that. If chalilah this caused death, then no kavod was given to their Rebbe. There is no way a chassidishe levaya could have followed the proper guidelines. its not practical or probable. The Litvish community BH has figured out a way to honor the legacy of their Niftarim RL, and give them a bekavodik levaya with no one present. In this shaas hadechak , le halacha , this becomes the most bekavodik way. (obviously not a posek , just an observer)

  5. I respect how the article was written. At the same time, I think people need to understand that communities that speak other languages are more likely to have other ways of life. They should have mourned from their windows. Here, in Lakewood, we have people davening in seperate backyards. We have more people who look like they are keeping with today’s Derekh Eretz. Yiddish-speaking Khassidish communities have different attitudes, but BARUCH HASHEM, they were wearing masks!

    I still oppose De Blasio more because he’s a fake hypocrite who was the one that didn’t close schools down in NYC when other major cities were starting to close up! He was in the park where thousands witnessed airplanes but somehow, people could go to a funeral? That is pathetic! I think it is bad even outside of the context of the funeral having been Jewish.

  6. I fail to understand how someone can suggest that social distancing rules were kept by most when you see pictures of hundreds right next to each other. I think mayor was right for saying Jews. To expect him to say chassidic is far more dangerous for him- it’s like pointing out a group of Americans and saying ‘these guys from utah did so and so’. How could these people have had a hava amina that it would be safe is beyond absurd? To claim double standards is yet again not taking responsibility for our actions. Some of us are so paranoic. Let’s be honest if this happened in a Muslim funeral and the mayor would have pointed out the Muslim no one would have thought it out of place. Why can’t we be even keeled. This is so distressing. We need a Godol to make a very strong statement about these situations, because even once is one too many.

  7. I think it is abundantly clear that this was a huge miscalculation on the part of their leadership. Was it really that necessary to hope that people would follow the rules.
    The very nature of these types of events is that people try to make their way to the front… imagine how easy that becomes if everyone is standing 6 feet apart… oops now nobody is standing 6 feet apart because they all (on their own) are making their way up…
    The second aspect is that when you have a one on one interaction with someone one time (against health guidelines) there is a relatively small chance that somebody is getting infected that one time, BUT when you have a large crowd in which many people interact with many people – the spread of the virus is almost certain to take place.
    BTW I understand the feelings, there were a total of 6 attendees by my father’s levayah (plus 3 people from the funeral home), I myself was not there.
    Hashem Yerachem

  8. “We came up with a plan … Unfortunately, this didn’t pan out …” The apology is sincere, but he doesn’t seem to understand the concept of “Lo ploog” – we don’t make exceptions. This is why we aren’t having minyanim even when we are careful to keep our distance from each other! Why did they think a levaya should be different?

  9. It was wrong on every front to make this levaya for the wider public.
    Yes, lives are at stake.
    There is no justification in saying it did not work out as they had intended because common sense dictates that it would not have been possible in the first instance.
    I do not agree with singling out any race or religious group but the Mayor should have called out this incident for what it was. The onus of this chilul Hashem is on the Tolaas Yakov Kehilla.
    Forget about what the non jews are doing – whatever frum yidden do will always be put under the microscope so we have to be careful and consequence our actions very carefully.