For Immediate Release
October 9, 2020
Jacob Kornbluh, NYJA & Rabbis Call for Compliance with Public Health Measures, Justice for Victims of Violence
Click Here for Statement from NYJA & 450+ Rabbis/Cantors Supports Covid-19 Containment Efforts
NEW YORK – Journalist Jacob Kornbluh, New York Jewish Agenda (NYJA), and a group of rabbis today called for communities across New York City to comply with public health measures to contain Covid-19 in New York’s hotspots.
The group called for justice for Jacob Kornbluh and other victims of recent violent incidents. Participants also spoke about the need for data-driven, geographically-based public health efforts to contain Covid-19 in New York hotspots and for compliance in all communities, including NYC’s Orthodox Jewish communities.
“I hope the investigation will come to a clear conclusion and send the message that everyone, including reporters on the job and every human life, is precious to all of us,” said Jewish Insider journalist Jacob Kornbluh. “Nobody should feel unsafe walking the streets of New York City.”
“As rabbis, of course we are deeply committed to the right to worship, to freedom of religion. Many Haredi Jews fled here to this country for that right, and we are on their side when we see any bias against the free expression of religion,” said Rabbi Rachel Timoner, Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn & Co-Founder of NY Jewish Agenda. “However, we are deeply concerned here because this is a life and death matter. Life and death matters give a compelling government interest, for the government to impose restrictions to save lives.”
“Asking all of us to wear masks, to observe social distancing and avoid large congregate gatherings is not an antisemitic act on the part of our city and country in the attempt to save lives,” said Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan & Co-Founder of NY Jewish Agenda.
NYJA on Thursday released a statement signed by 450+ rabbis, cantors, and other religious leaders – including more than 160 from New York – supporting efforts to contain Covid-19 in New York hotspots and condemning incidents of violence and noncompliance with public health directives.
“Today on Hoshana Raba, we cry out to each other, to our fellow Jews: Hoshia Na, let us save ourselves, let us protect ourselves,” said Rabbi Avram Mlotek, American Open Orthodox Rabbi and Cantor and founder of Base Hillel. “And for those among our broader Jewish community who turn to violence, to hateful and disgusting rhetoric, let me just say emphatically: for shame. Such a Chillul Hashem, such a desecration of the Divine name, could not be farther from Jewish values.”
“I signed this letter and chose to speak today in order to emphasize the centrality of the value of Pikuach Nefesh, the saving of a life, over almost any other obligation in Jewish law,” said Rabbi Gabriel Kretzmer Seed, Jewish prison chaplain. “I speak as a fellow Orthodox Jew, urging them to engage in the activities which have been scientifically proven to save lives during this pandemic: wearing masks, physical distancing, and abstaining from large gatherings, along with following other public health guidance.”
“This weekend, Jews across the world complete the annual cycle of Torah reading,” said Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, Scholar-in-Residence at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah and recipient of three Ultra-Orthodox ordinations. “The Hebrew Bible concludes with the words ‘displayed in front of all of the people.’ The rabbis explain that our actions and inactions, when in the public eye, testify to the content of the entire Torah. What we are witnessing contradicts the most important teachings of our tradition and we are here to correct it, to protect people and the truth of our Torah.”
Among the statement’s 450 signers are:
Rabbi Marc Angel, Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals (Manhattan)
Rabbi Amy Bernstein, Kehillat Israel (California)
Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Central Synagogue (Manhattan)
Rabbi Sharon Brous, IKAR (California)
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, President, Hebrew College (Massachusetts)
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah (Manhattan)
Rabbi Hara Person, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Deborah Waxman, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Rabbi José Rolando (Roly) Malaton, B’nai Jeshurun (Manhattan)
About New York Jewish Agenda
The New York Jewish Agenda (NYJA), founded in March 2020, amplifies the voice of Jewish community leaders whose shared values motivate them to promote social justice, combat antisemitism, and support a democratic vision of Israel. We engage on critical issues across New York City and State through advocacy, education, and collaboration.