NYJA Statement on Proposed Measures to Fight COVID-19 in Hotspots in New York
October 5, 2020
The New York Jewish Agenda (NYJA) issued the following statement:
“Back in April, the New York Jewish Agenda (NYJA) criticized Mayor de Blasio for accusing ‘the Jewish community’ broadly of violating public health directives, at a time when many other communities were also struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19. Today, however, we applaud the mayor and the governor for taking decisive steps to contain new COVID-19 ‘hotspots,’ including those in which some Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods are located, and for avoiding the use of stigmatizing language. NYJA supports these steps, which are based in science and sound public health data.
“Today’s announced closures came about because too many New Yorkers, including some Orthodox Jews, flouted the City and State guidelines regarding masks, physical distancing, and mass gatherings. As Governor Cuomo said today, it is unacceptable that some Orthodox Jewish leaders have spread scientifically unsupported myths about herd immunity or politically motivated falsehoods about ‘the virus hoax.’ Leaders from any community who support the undermining of public health and safety are putting lives at risk.
“It is essential to note, however, that these views are not shared by the vast majority of Orthodox Jewish leaders — who have in fact been clear in their calls for compliance with public health directives — and the many Orthodox Jewish individuals who are complying despite what certain religious leaders in their communities may say. We encourage our political leaders and the press to be on guard to ensure that their words do not create an environment in which antisemitic slurs and attacks can multiply based on stereotypes and hearsay. We are also pleased to hear that Governor Cuomo is meeting with leaders of the Orthodox community tomorrow, and we hope these meetings encourage Orthodox Jewish leaders to take an even greater role in stamping out non-compliant behavior within their communities. Otherwise, further government interventions will be necessary to save lives.
“Jewish tradition teaches us that saving a human life must take precedence over all other concerns, and we have seen the vast majority of New Yorkers put that value into action by taking precautionary measures that have saved thousands of lives. With colder temperatures approaching, we cannot afford to get complacent now, and we must act quickly and decisively to stamp out COVID-19 clusters. By standing unified, we can contain these hotspots and ensure that the health of all New Yorkers is protected in the months to come.”