Gov. Cuomo quotes Hebrew in plea for Orthodox Jews to stop large gatherings

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo quoted Hebrew to urge New York’s Orthodox Jewish residents to refrain from hosting large gatherings in the wake of an uptick in coronavirus cases on Sunday.

‘I say to my friends in the Hasidic community: The Hebrew faith teaches us, pikuach nefesh, which means “save a life,” and under the Hebrew teachings … participation in a religious ceremony can be excused for a matter of health and life and safety,’ he said in a press call.

Cuomo’s plea comes as New York City and the state have seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in large Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Queens. 

Also on Sunday Cuomo announced that the COVID-19 positivity rate is 5.7 percent in cluster sites. Statewide, the positive rate is 0.84 percent excluding hot spots. 

On Sunday Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke Hebrew urging Orthodox Jewish residents to follow the teaching of pikuach nefesh, which means 'save a life,' and avoid large gatherings

On Sunday Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke Hebrew urging Orthodox Jewish residents to follow the teaching of pikuach nefesh, which means ‘save a life,’ and avoid large gatherings

Orthodox Jewish men pictured speaking with police officers in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn on Wednesday

Orthodox Jewish men pictured speaking with police officers in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn on Wednesday

Orthodox Jewish men pictured speaking with police officers in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn on Wednesday

As of Sunday there are 474,286 positive COVID-19 cases reported in New York state and there have been 25,574 deaths, which includes five fatalities Saturday.

Last week Cuomo announced new cluster action initiative to tackle rising cases in Brooklyn, Queens, and other regions outside of the city. 

The state order called for the end of in-person school, the shut down of non-essential businesses and placed restrictions on religious gatherings in certain Jewish communities, which prompted protests and lawsuits.

The restrictions limit houses of worship in zones with highest infection rates to 25 percent capacity or a maximum of 10 people. 

Protests have broken out in outrage of the restrictions. On Tuesday night some 500 protesters gathered in the predominantly Orthodox Jewish area of Borough Park where they started a fire in the street after midnight, burned masks and chanted ‘Jewish Lives Matter’. 

The governor toned down his crack down on Sunday in a bid to empathize with his constituents.

‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ Cuomo said, citing the Book of Leviticus, the New York Daily News reported. ‘The point here is to save a life and not to endanger others,’ he added. 

Cuomo announced Sunday the COVID-19 positivity rate in the red zone areas seeing the most troubling uptick of coronavirus cases is 5.7 percent. The statewide positivity rate excluding red zones in 0.84 percent

Cuomo announced Sunday the COVID-19 positivity rate in the red zone areas seeing the most troubling uptick of coronavirus cases is 5.7 percent. The statewide positivity rate excluding red zones in 0.84 percent

Cuomo announced Sunday the COVID-19 positivity rate in the red zone areas seeing the most troubling uptick of coronavirus cases is 5.7 percent. The statewide positivity rate excluding red zones in 0.84 percent

As of Sunday there have been 474,286 positive COVID-19 cases reported in New York state and there have been 25,574 deaths, which includes five New Yorker deaths Saturday

As of Sunday there have been 474,286 positive COVID-19 cases reported in New York state and there have been 25,574 deaths, which includes five New Yorker deaths Saturday

As of Sunday there have been 474,286 positive COVID-19 cases reported in New York state and there have been 25,574 deaths, which includes five New Yorker deaths Saturday

A man tries to enter to the closed Young Israel Beth-El of Boro Park Synagogue on Saturday in Brooklyn, New York City

A man tries to enter to the closed Young Israel Beth-El of Boro Park Synagogue on Saturday in Brooklyn, New York City

A man tries to enter to the closed Young Israel Beth-El of Boro Park Synagogue on Saturday in Brooklyn, New York City

Police officers watch the Orthodox Jewish men gathering on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah at the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn Saturday night

Police officers watch the Orthodox Jewish men gathering on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah at the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn Saturday night

Police officers watch the Orthodox Jewish men gathering on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah at the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn Saturday night

Police watch on as Orthodox Jewish men gather on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah to celebrate in Borough Park on Saturday night. The state's hot spot restrictions limit houses of worship to 25 percent capacity or a maximum of 10 people

Police watch on as Orthodox Jewish men gather on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah to celebrate in Borough Park on Saturday night. The state's hot spot restrictions limit houses of worship to 25 percent capacity or a maximum of 10 people

Police watch on as Orthodox Jewish men gather on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah to celebrate in Borough Park on Saturday night. The state’s hot spot restrictions limit houses of worship to 25 percent capacity or a maximum of 10 people

New York City sheriffs issued 13 civil summonses in COVID-19 cluster zones across the city on Friday, the sheriff’s office said Sunday. 

Six summonses were issued for not wearing masks or failing to social distance in yellow zones. Three were issued in orange zones and four handed out in red zones.

The new zones differentiating clusters of COVID-19 cases and varied restrictions span 20 zip codes in Brooklyn and Queens. 

The Brooklyn red zone is centered on Borough Park, Midwood and Gravesend. In Queens the red zones are Far Rockaway and Kew Gardens.

On Friday a federal judge allowed Cuomo to move forward with restrictions on gatherings at synagogues and other houses of worship after Agudath Israel of America, a national Orthodox Jewish organization, sued the governor this week for his latest executive order. 

Orthodox Jewish men throw their hats and block their faces from being photographed Saturday night as they gathered to observe Simchat Torah in Borough Park, Brooklyn

Orthodox Jewish men throw their hats and block their faces from being photographed Saturday night as they gathered to observe Simchat Torah in Borough Park, Brooklyn

Orthodox Jewish men throw their hats and block their faces from being photographed Saturday night as they gathered to observe Simchat Torah in Borough Park, Brooklyn

Last week Cuomo announced new cluster action initiative to tackle rising cases in Brooklyn, Queens, and other regions outside of the city, many effecting communities that include Orthodox Jews. A group of protesters picture din Borough Park denouncing lockdowns on Wednesday

Last week Cuomo announced new cluster action initiative to tackle rising cases in Brooklyn, Queens, and other regions outside of the city, many effecting communities that include Orthodox Jews. A group of protesters picture din Borough Park denouncing lockdowns on Wednesday

Last week Cuomo announced new cluster action initiative to tackle rising cases in Brooklyn, Queens, and other regions outside of the city, many effecting communities that include Orthodox Jews. A group of protesters picture din Borough Park denouncing lockdowns on Wednesday

Groups of Orthodox Jewish protesters gathered in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park on Wednesday night to denounce lockdowns of their neighborhood that began Thursday due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the area

Groups of Orthodox Jewish protesters gathered in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park on Wednesday night to denounce lockdowns of their neighborhood that began Thursday due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the area

Groups of Orthodox Jewish protesters gathered in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park on Wednesday night to denounce lockdowns of their neighborhood that began Thursday due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the area

Around 500 people gathered Wednesday but the NYPD made no arrests and issued no citations

Around 500 people gathered Wednesday but the NYPD made no arrests and issued no citations

Around 500 people gathered Wednesday but the NYPD made no arrests and issued no citations

‘How can we ignore the compelling state interest in protecting the health and life of all New Yorkers?’ Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto of Federal District Court in Brooklyn said.

It came as there were three Jewish holidays – Hoshana Rabbah, Shemini Atzeret and Simhat Torah – over the weekend. 

Also on Friday another federal judge denied a similar lawsuit launched by Catholic religious leaders to prevent the new regulations from being implemented.   

Mayor Bill de Blasio warned last week that New York City would begin hitting people with steep fines if they hold large gatherings or refuse to wear face masks.

People who hold large gatherings will face $15,000 per day and fines for failing to wear a face mask will be up to $1,000, de Blasio announced Wednesday. 

The city has also sent out some 1,200 personnel to hot spots to inform people of the new rules.



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