The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American Orthodox Rabbis — seeks clarification over comments made by Mayor Bill de Blasio which appear to single out the entire city’s Jewish community. These comments relate to the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz, which took place in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section. According to media reports, the funeral appeared to have drawn a massive crowd in violation of the City’s social distancing policy. Mayor de Blasio personally went to the site of the funeral with police before posting a tweet that sparked controversy with the city’s Jewish community.
In his tweet, the Mayor stated, “My message to the Jewish Community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.”
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America stated, “The Rabbinical Alliance of America takes the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic very seriously. As a diverse unified body of rabbis from all major Orthodox sects and groups we collectively recognize the seriousness of the pandemic as an issue of life and death. We have independently and jointly issued statements to the Jewish community warning of the need to heed the medical authorities and to obey all governmental warnings and regulations regarding social distancing and proper quarantine protocols. As an organization, the Rabbinical Alliance of America can proudly state that the overwhelming majority of the entire Jewish community and Orthodox community in particular are heeding the advice of the medical authorities and are in full compliance with all governmental regulations.
“Mayor de Blasio, the Rabbinical Alliance of America is concerned about, and disagrees with, your choice of language stating, ‘My message to the Jewish Community.’ Such verbiage gives the impression that the entire Jewish community as a collective group are behaving reckless and are willfully disobeying and disregarding sound medical advice and governmental rules and regulations. It ignores all of the progress that has been made in preventing the spread of the disease thanks in no small part to the hard work by Jewish individuals and families staying home under great strain and Jewish medical professionals and volunteers working tirelessly to cure the sick and help the needy. Such comments place the entire Jewish community of the city under attack. With the rise of anti-Semitic attacks nationally and in New York City, which outside of Israel has the largest Jewish population, this language only helps to fuel issues of hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism that the Jewish Community faces.
“Therefore, Mayor de Blasio, the Rabbinical Alliance of America is waiting for your response and clarification that we can share with the Jewish community who are disturbed by the comments contained in your tweet.”