Riots Within Brooklyn and the Jewish Community

By: Abigail Grigoryan  |  October 29, 2020

By: Abigail Grigoryan, Staff Writer

On October 4, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the immediate shut down of restaurants and other nonessential businesses in New York City’s coronavirus hotspots. Most of the targeted zip codes were parts of Williamsburg, Bedford Stuyvesant, Brighton Beach, Crown Heights, Marine Park,Mill Basin, Kensington,Windsor Terrace, Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, and Jamaica (Bklyner). In addition to closing restaurants and nonessential businesses, both public and private schools have shut down. The shutdowns have affected more than half a million residents. In addition to the shutdowns, the state announced police will be issuing tickets for failure to wear masks in those areas. Mass gatherings will face a $15,000 fine as well. Those who do not wear masks can face a fine of up to $1,000.

The latest surge in COVID-19 cases were announced just days before the city’s return to indoor dining back on September 30. Indoor dining had been delayed since July, and the new cases troubled restaurant owners that there would be another shutdown. There has been so much miscommunication between the city and state levels of government; while Mayor de Blasio expected these new restrictions to go into effect immediately, Gov. Cuomo accepted the school’s closure as part of de Blasio’s plan but then suspended the plan to restrict indoor and outdoor dining by ZIP code, before declaring it part of his policy. Once again, New Yorkers saw the dispute between the governor and the mayor battling over their separate powers and with both legislators taking opposing views on several issues.

Following the recent shutdown on Wednesday, October 8, members of New York City’s Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community protested Borough Park, Brooklyn, in response to the new coronavirus restrictions. Many of the protesters were not only not wearing masks and social distancing, but were burning masks. While all eyes are currently on the Jewish community of Brooklyn, it is safe to say that those in Borough Park do not represent the majority, as almost all communities are working together to stop the spread. Actions are being taken by neighborhoods and many synagogues to implement social distancing guidelines for outdoor services. There has been a lot of backlash on social media due to the protests. Neighboring populations have taken it upon themselves to shout slurs and antisemitic comments to many on the streets of Flatbush which is unacceptable and repulsive behavior. The actions of Ultra-Othrodox community jeopardizes the image and safety of other Jews in Brooklyn because while we may be different in observance, the outcomes of attacks will be the same. 

Back in March, New York City was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic and has suffered nearly 24,000 deaths. Since then, the city has maintained low infection rates but the new surge of cases happened after the school systems, as well as indoor dining, reopened. Although there were no specific cases within the school system, the COVID-19 cases were spreading within the hot spots. Mayor de Blasio announced that the shutdowns could last two to four weeks, depending on the development in combating the spread of the virus. With the recent cases, the plan of the shutdowns will possibly remain in effect for at least 14 days until average infection rates fall below 3% for seven consecutive days. However, in a more drastic scenario, the shutdowns could also stay in force for as long as 28 days. While this has been a difficult change, as a community we once again need to come together to follow guidelines and stop the spread of COVID-19. As members of a larger community, we must understand the implications of our actions on our fellow citizens and members. Within Judaism this is stressed as having religious importance, namely Kiddush Hashem (representing the Jewish community and God in a respectable manner). Having this responsibility means we are all accountable, and should work together to stay strong in attempts to defeat this virus.