Orthodox Jews protest against restrictions in New York

On October 6, 2020, the Democratic Governor of New York State limited the number of people per synagogue to 10. Since then, part of the Orthodox Jewish community has demonstrated daily against restrictive anti-Covid-19 measures.

In the Borough Park area of ​​Brooklyn (New York), part of the Orthodox Jewish community continued to protest on October 9, 2020 – as it has been doing for several days – against restrictive measures aimed at stemming the Covid-19 epidemic . She is defying the limit of 10 people per synagogue and the closure of non-essential businesses imposed by the Democratic Governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo.

What will he do ? Call in his police and shut down all the synagogues in the neighborhood? There may be 500

«[Le gouverneur] does not understand that all of our life is made up of prayer and Bible study. We are doing what we have to do, ”one of them told AFP, introducing himself under his first name of Moses, in front of the Anshei Sfard Hasidic synagogue, one of the many in the neighborhood.

A few streets further on, Abraham, 50, also refuses the restrictions imposed. “What will he do ? Call in his police and shut down all the synagogues in the neighborhood? There are maybe 500, ”he says.

Since October 6, this hostility from part of the Orthodox Jewish community has resulted in several demonstrations, during which masks have been burnt in the street. A community journalist was also beaten up by protesters chanting “Jewish Lives Matter”, echoing the Black Lives Matter movement against racial inequalities that rocked major US cities.

“90% of the people here vote Trump. They are trying to prevent us from voting ”

Some members of the Orthodox Jewish community are convinced that the city’s Democratic authorities are targeting them because many of them support President and Republican candidate for re-election, Donald Trump.

“90% of the people here vote Trump, and that’s exactly the red zone. They are trying to prevent us from voting, ”a man wishing to remain anonymous told AFP.

Witness of the political tensions in the run-up to the presidential election on November 3, the governor of the State of New York accused the American president on October 9 of “agitating the ultra-Orthodox community of Brooklyn”. Two days earlier, a statement signed by more than 450 rabbis and Jewish community leaders called for support for the governor and his “evidence-based” approach.

An Orthodox Jewish organization also attacked the restrictions in federal justice in the name of religious freedom. She was unsuccessful on October 9, Judge Kiyo Matsumoto judging that “the Covid [transcendait] racial, religious and economic boundaries ”. According to New York Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, resistance to the restrictions is only coming from a “marginal” part of the community.

Borough Park is part of an area south of Brooklyn, now classified as “red” by authorities for its rate of coronavirus positivity. The rate varies by neighborhood, but Borough Park is close to 9%, compared to 1.16% for New York City as a whole, according to local authorities.

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