Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned an ultra-Orthodox synagogue in Brooklyn on Tuesday that he will shut them down “once and for all” if they continue to flout his lockdown orders.
During a Tuesday press conference, de Blasio was asked about a large indoor funeral held Monday by Congregation Yetev Lev D’Satmar, a prominent synagogue in Williamsburg that was also recently fined $15,000 for secretly conducting a large indoor wedding in November.
“If we see another confirmed situation in which an inappropriate event is happening in that same building, then we’re going to have to move to shut down the building once and for all,” de Blasio said, according to Gothamist. “That would be the next step if we see non-compliance.”
“I do think there’s an ideological factor that’s making things a lot harder,” de Blasio also said, seeming to imply that the Hasidic community’s continued non-compliance with state and city lockdown orders stems from their widespread support for President Donald Trump.
A unnamed source in the community told Gothamist that de Blasio’s threats were “laughable,” adding, “These tactics were available to him the entire time. I don’t see any reason to think he’s going to do it this time.”
De Blasio has been threatening to shutter defiant synagogues and churches since the beginning of the pandemic. During a press conference on March 27, he warned non-complying houses of worship that law enforcement “will take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently.”
New York City’s Orthodox Jewish community have clashed repeatedly with both de Blasio and Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over lockdown orders that some believe unfairly target them.
De Blasio, who marched in solidarity with protesters who gathered in the wake of George Floyd’s death, drew swift and widespread condemnation when he scolded the Jewish community in April after personally helping to disperse a rabbi’s funeral in Williamsburg.
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” de Blasio warned. “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.”
My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. 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.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 29, 2020
In October, de Blasio expressed regret for that interaction after he met with Haredi leaders, telling a reporter for the Jewish Insider: “I look back now and understand there was just more dialogue that was needed. That one night in Williamsburg I let my frustration and concern get away with me and I should have been more careful in my language and I’ve expressed my apology for that before. The No. 1 takeaway from the meeting is more dialogue. More communication is the way forward.”
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