Judge Upholds Gov. Cuomo’s COVID Restrictions on Religious Gatherings

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A federal judge has sided with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, refusing to block a plan to enforce limits on religious gatherings in coronavirus hot spots across the state.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto handed down the ruling following an emergency hearing in a lawsuit brought by several rabbis and synagogues who hoped to delay enforcement until at least after Sukkot, a Jewish holiday beginning this week.

The rules limit indoor worship services to 10-25 people depending on the rate of spread of the virus. Nonessential businesses and schools have also been shut down in some of those areas.

In the lawsuit, rabbis, leaders of synagogues, and the national Orthodox Jewish group Agudath Israel had argued that Gov. Cuomo was singling out Jews for unconstitutional treatment.

“That targeting of a religious minority on the eve of its holidays is reason enough to reject all of defendant’s arguments and allow plaintiffs to celebrate their holidays this weekend as they have for over 2,000 years,” the suit declared.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn has also challenged Cuomo’s restrictions in court.

“We appeal to our elected officials and executive agencies to work with us collaboratively in developing policies that both ensure good health and allow us to practice our faith. It shouldn’t be necessary to have to fight these things out in court,” Agudah Chairman Shlomo Werdiger lamented.

As we reported last week, hordes of New York City’s Orthodox Jews took to the streets of Brooklyn in protest of Cuomo’s restrictions, blocking traffic and setting small fires with face masks. The protest followed Gov. Cuomo’s threat that he would “close the synagogues” if their members continued in defiance of his capacity limits.

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