November 30, 2020
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Protests erupt among Jewish communities in response to Cuomo’s re-enforced lockdowns

By Jesse Stiller
Nation & World Editor

New York City began to reimpose lockdowns this week in certain zip codes that are considered hotspots in an effort to curb infection rates as the city approaches the fall and winter seasons.

Leaders of New York City, in conjunction with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, have launched a strictly-enforced lockdown for certain areas of the city that were deemed the most “problematic” to the city’s management of the Covid-19, according to The New York Times,

According to The New York Times, the lockdowns were set in many Orthodox Jewish communities in the city to tackle floutings of mass gathering limits on religious functions. The order would not only cap gatherings at houses of worship, but also close bars, restaurants and gyms in the zip codes applied.

Governor Cuomo told CBS News that the city is also planning more restrictions to be implemented in an effort to stop the spread of the virus before it gets out of control once again, further comparing officials to “‘the firefighters who rush in to stamp it out before it takes off.’”

Most of the protests took place in ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, some of them being targeted by the new lock-downs (Envato Elements).

“This is déjà vu all over again,” Cuomo told CBS News. “We’re having the same conversation we had when this virus started. We’ve learned a lot. Let’s acknowledge what we’ve learned, you know?”

Shortly after the lockdowns were announced, as reported by The New York Times, members of the Orthodox Jewish community began to protest in the streets, with leaders stating that the governor “‘has chosen to pursue a scientifically and constitutionally questionable shutdown of our communities,’” and accusing the Governor of anti-semitic actions since the lockdowns fell on Sukkot.

According to The New York Times, images began to circulate around social media that appeared to show a large group gathering in the middle of a street burning face masks as a sign of defiance to the lockdowns. Another report alleged that one Hasidic man was attacked for being disloyal to the community, as some members called him a “‘snitch.’”

According to NBC4 New York, journalist Jacob Kornbluh was targeted while trying to report on the protests after being taunted by participants and alleging that he was kicked during the altercation.

The NPR reported that the leader of the two night-long protests, activist Harold “Heshy” Tischler was arrested and taken into custody for his role in organizing the protests. Tishler was charged with inciting a riot and unlawful imprisonment of Kornbluh when he was reporting, among other charges.

According to The New York Times, the lockdowns also sewed more chaos as well as the threat of lawsuits from the religious communities in the area.

The two lawsuits, as reported by The New York Times, were from an Orhtodox Jewish group and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, who were suing to keep their respective houses of worship open without restrictions. While they acknowledged the threat of the virus, they were critical of the “haphazard way” the restrictions were imposed.

As of Oct. 13, according to The New York Times, $150,000 in fines have been imposed and 62 tickets have been issued in the locked-down neighborhoods. There is currently no end-date for the lockdowns and no timetable for any easing of restrictions.

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