New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has warned religious groups in the state—particularly New York City’s Orthodox Jewish population—that he will take executive action to close houses of worship if his COVID guidelines are not obeyed.
“We know religious institutions have been a problem,” Cuomo said at a press conference on Monday according to The Daily Caller. “We know mass gatherings are the super spreader events. We know there have been mass gatherings going on in concert with religious institutions in these communities for weeks. For weeks.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: "I have to say to the Orthodox community tomorrow, 'If you're not willing to live with these rules, then I'm going to close the synagogues.'" pic.twitter.com/QWOPvZMbFI
— The Hill (@thehill) October 5, 2020
“I don’t mean little violations,” Cuomo, a Democrat, went on. “I’m talking about, you’re only supposed to have 50 outdoors, they had 1,000.”
In New York City holding a briefing. Watch Live: https://t.co/hmdYiiMZHG
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) October 5, 2020
At the presser, Cuomo offered photos from “the past couple of weeks,” denouncing them as “emblematic” of the large religious gatherings persisting amid the pandemic.
However, according to some investigation by Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh, it appears the photos Cuomo cited were actually taken back in 2006 at the funeral of Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum.
Apparently the picture @NYGovCuomo put up in his presentation today of a “recent” large gathering in Satmar Kiryas Joel is from 2006 — the funeral of Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum in Kiryas Joel! pic.twitter.com/CxGtHhyZUj
— Jacob Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) October 5, 2020
According to the Caller, Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the photos.
At the conference, Cuomo conceded that his heavy hand in enforcing social distancing policies can lead to “uncomfortable” situations. Nonetheless, he warned, “if you’re not willing to live with these rules, then I’m going to close the synagogues.”
“I have had a 30-year relationship with the Orthodox community,” the governor touted. “It goes back to my father. I have a very close personal relationship with them. This is the last thing I want to do, forget the politics, I don’t care about that anymore. Personally, I don’t want to have this conversation. It’s a difficult conversation. And you’re right on the line of government intrusion on religion. So it’s hard.”
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