Jewish community leaders in New York City wrote an open letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, expressing their “anger and disappointment” over the mayor’s stern warnings to “the Jewish community” following a large Hasidic funeral gathering in Brooklyn Tuesday.
“In the midst of an historic wave of antisemitic hate violence in New York City, our community — like the Asian community — has been feeling the pain of being singled out and blamed for the spread of this deadly disease,” the letter says.
The letter is signed by groups including Jews for Racial & Economic Justice and the New York Jewish Agenda, as well as Congressman Jerrold Nadler, state Sens. Brad Hoylman and Julia Salazar and Assembly members Harvey Epstein and Linda B. Rosenthal.
Following the gathering earlier this week, the mayor tweeted he went there himself “to make sure the crowd was dispersed” and said what happened “will not be tolerated.”
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” the mayor said on Twitter. “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.”
In a Wednesday news conference, the mayor apologized, saying “if in my passion and in my emotion, I said something that in any way was hurtful, I’m sorry about that.”
“That was not my intention. But I also want to be clear: I have no regrets about calling out this danger and saying we’re going to deal with it very, very aggressively,” he added.
In their letter, the Jewish leaders requested a meeting with the mayor saying they wanted to discuss “constructive approaches to respond to the pandemic that recognize the Jewish community’s earnest efforts to fight COVID-19, protect vulnerable communities, and avoid heavy-handed over-policing.”
“Jewish communities of every kind from across the city are doing their best to support those who are suffering during this difficult time,” the letter says, highlighting efforts by Orthodox communities to organize blood plasma donation centers, testing facilities, and food banks. “Jews have overwhelmingly led and acted responsibly in this moment of social distancing.”
CNN obtained a copy of the letter, which was published on Medium.com, via the New York Jewish Agenda.