Agudath Israel To Cuomo: Open Yeshiva, Shuls, And Summer Camps

In this April 24, 2020 photo provided by the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Gov. Cuomo addresses the media while holding an n95 mask during his daily press briefing on COVID-19, Coronavirus, at the State Capitol in Albany, N.Y. The mask was sent to the governor by a retired farmer from Kansas whose wife only has one lung. (Darren McGee/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via AP)

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Yesterday, a Jewish school in Brooklyn, NY was found hosting students learning in apparent violation of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order. While Agudath Israel of America neither runs nor controls any yeshivos, if any yeshiva violated the Executive Order as it stands, there are no excuses for such behavior. Period.

That said, this incident speaks to a larger issue. Courts in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Kansas have struck down Executive Orders that shuttered churches, on the grounds that such orders unlawfully prohibited the free exercise of religion. Yeshivos in our community serve both educational and religious functions, as they transmit our core religious values. Moreover, children have been home for months. Orthodox families tend to be larger, and many live in small, urban apartments. The mental health toll of this pandemic on children and parents alike has been crushing.

As COVID-19 cases in New York have dropped for over a month now, and the state is allowing professional sports to resume and jewelry stores to reopen in its Phase 1, the state must prioritize seeking unambiguously safe ways to reopen schools and summer camps for children. We have offered to government that even if a prudent reopening would mandate significant changes in the structure of the classroom or camping experience, this would be far better than the sweeping prohibitions currently in place.

We similarly urge the Governor to find safe and responsible ways to allow prayer. Toward that end, Agudath Israel has also met with leading members of the executive branch on this issue. To be clear, the goal is not to encourage opening prematurely or unsafely, but to work with government to ensure that these vital areas are prioritized to open with the utmost caution, but expediently.

Religious expression and children’s education should not be last on the list of priorities for safe reopening. In fact, by both legal and moral imperative, they should be among the first.

We urge New York to consider and accelerate these requests, while we simultaneously urge our community to obey the current Executive Order, as difficult as it is for us and all Americans, until it is updated.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


  1. every dor has a “pinchas” – flatbush has rav pinchas frankel , although he was not correct on some of the points on others HE WAS TO THE POINT. we cant wait for a goy to tell us when to open a shul they cant possibly measure its importance

    kanaus is by definition not thought out, thats why its halacha veain morin ken because if you have the yishuv hadaas to ask thats not real kanaus

  2. a lot of parents will be happy if the camps will be closed not only this year. thy just don’t have money for this and its a huge %

  3. With all due respect , were was the aguda until now. If you believe in religious freedom then the aguda should have gone to court to push the issue
    However, if it is still not safe to open up based on our own doctors in the frum community , then there is nothing to talk about and we should still remain closed.

  4. Jewelry stores are somewhat different than shuls and yeshivos, don’t you think?
    How about bungalow colonies? haven’t noticed that addressed anywhere.

  5. Cuomo wants us all in a coma. With the death toll dropping daily, we should be able to give our kids an emotional fun pack summer with strict guidelines. Children roaming the hot streets are worse than anything else. There’s a way to do it if he only cares. He’s just drunk from power and as soon as we have our basic liberties back, we dont need him and he goes back to the most hated politician ever. If only Trump can override Cuomo. Cuomo won’t relinquish his power unless he MUST. May H free us Cuomo’s/DeBlazio’s Galus.

  6. I would think that if any group would be EXTRA MACHMIR, even more so than the government- it would be our gedolim of the frum world, who should want to stay closed a little longer and not rush to open camp.

    Since when is Camp yaharoig vaal yaavor??

    Its seems they’ve already forgotten that the frum community got hit the hardest and had the most deaths, because we took so long to close shuls and yeshivas.

  7. I’m sorry but when laws don’t make sense and they are obviously politically motivated AND the ruchnius of Klal Yisroel is at stake we don’t sheepishly “abide by the current order”. We rise up as one and we defy the order. Even if it the order is not intended maliciously to destroy Yiddishkeit which is debatable it’s still a law that is destroying Klal Yisrael for no good reason. Would the agudah say the same thing by a gzeiras shmad?? I hope not. This is no different. We need the whole kehilla to rise up and open until they change the law to reflect medical science.