Governor Andrew Cuomo put New York’s Jewish Orthodox community on notice Monday for hosting mass gatherings amid the Chinese virus pandemic, using a nearly two-decade old picture to stress his point, while threatening enhanced lockdown measures if the Jews don’t get in line with his dictatorship.

It’s pretty much a case of power went to Cuomo’s head, and now he’s determined to show off that power, even at the expense of the First Amendment of our Constitution.

The New York Governor showed the 2006 image of Jews congregating so that he could use the religious community as a political prop and scapegoat to threaten anyone else who is even thinking about participating in any gatherings, even for religious purposes, which is a direct violation of the First Amendment.

“We know religious institutions have been a problem,” Cuomo said during a Monday press conference. “These are pictures from the past couple of weeks. And these are just emblematic. … What did you think was going to happen?”

“We know there have been mass gatherings going on in concert with religious institutions in these communities for weeks,” Cuomo said during a news briefing addressing COVID-19 outbreaks in certain areas of New York.

Cuomo used images that were over a decade old from the funeral of Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum that were taken in 2006.  Did the tyrant of the Empire State think that no one would notice?

Sitting next to Cuomo was a slideshow with images implying they were from recent packed events in the Orthodox community, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Orange County.

“These pictures are just from the past couple of weeks,” Cuomo declared.  Maybe Cuomo thinks 14 years ago is the same as a couple weeks.

The PowerPoint slide said, “Mass gatherings can be super-spreader events.”

Cuomo also blindsided New York City’s Mayor by declaring the state was going to take over COVID lockdown enforcement from de Blaso.  I think de Blasio is the only person more incompetent that the governor.   A number of schools that are in hot-spot areas will be closed down starting Tuesday. No date as of yet was given for reopening.

“WILL CUOMO APOLOGIZE?!?” a headline in The Yeshiva World shouted as it revealed the old photo.

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi posted on Twitter that “This was a staff error,” but added that the mistake was “caught in real time at the presser.” He said that the old photo was then “swapped out” with another photo taken at the same location two weeks ago.

“We regret the mistake,” Azzopardi said.

During the news conference, the governor announced that beginning on Tuesday, schools, including private schools, would close in nine “hot spot” areas in New York City.

Rockland and Orange County schools that have seen spikes in COVID, were not set to close. But Ceasar said that could change.

The poor excuse for an executive said will meet with Orthodox Jewish leaders again on Tuesday.  Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities are located in hot-spot areas like Rockland and Orange counties, including Brooklyn and Queens. These areas have experienced increased active COVID cases for a few weeks.

The focused enforcement — and comments from the governor questioning if the Orthodox leaders would “abide by these rules” — drew ire among some in the Jewish community.

“The 2006 photo is an illustration that sometimes governmental policy is driven by social media photos and that’s not prudent,” said Yossi Gestetner of Spring Valley.

Gestetner, co-founder of the Orthodox Jewish Affairs Public Affairs Council, believes the virus should to be taken seriously.  The gestures made by Cuomo are insulting.

“Orthodox life is very communal,” Gestetner said.  “The community can benefit from more awareness from the government.”

He pointed out that it is “reckless” to set government policy by using social media images.

“Earlier this year a federal judge cautioned the Governor about taking steps on religious gatherings while giving protests a pass,” he said, “and I believe that order stands.”But others were less quick to criticize. “I completely and strongly support the Governor’s approach,” said Aron Wieder, Rockland’s first Hasidic Jewish county legislator. “I thank the Governor for his leadership throughout the crisis. I encourage everyone to listen and adhere to all the guidelines with the utmost earnestness and strictness.”


Daniel is a conservative syndicated opinion writer and amateur theologian. He writes about topics of politics, culture, freedom, and faith.

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