The New York Board of Rabbis said recent protests of the Brooklyn Orthodox community against new coronavirus related restrictions were “shameful,” the New York Post reported Thursday.
The board criticized the protesters for ignoring safety precautions and asked the Jewish community to follow official guidelines, the Post reported. The board cited a principle called “pikuach nefesh,” which means that saving lives is more important than religious adherence, according to the Post.
“We cannot defend individuals in our Jewish community who demonstrate a blatant disregard for the COVID-19 health protocols and endanger their lives and those of other people,” the board said, the Post reported.
“COVID-19 is a non-discriminating disease that must be fought by all people following the rules without exception.”
In recent weeks, neighborhoods with large numbers of Orthodox Jewish residents have been posting positivity rates of more than 3%, and as high as 8%. On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed a shutdown of schools and nonessential businesses in these areas. https://t.co/TAL3ynIVw1
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 8, 2020
Protests started Tuesday night following the announcement of new state and city-wide coronavirus regulations on non-essential businesses, houses of worship, and school closings in Brooklyn, New York, the Post reported.
The demonstrators burned face masks and some allegedly attacked three people during the two nights of demonstrations, according to the Post. (RELATED: Hundreds In NYC Orthodox New York Community Protest New Coronavirus Mandates)
“We are also appalled by the shameful behavior of those who burn masks or beat people who protest their non-compliance,” the board said, the Post reported.
The board reprimanded critics who generalized criticisms and added to the “demonization of an entire community” when it was really “certain members” who participated, the Post reported.
“We believe in collective responsibility where we are accountable for our behavior and reject collective guilt where everyone is depicted without distinction,” the board said, the Post reported. “At a time when Anti-Semitism is on the rise, we categorically condemn the demonization of the Jewish people, but we will continue to advocate for safe individual behavior.”
The board said it would continue to coordinate with government officials to increase adherence to regulations, the Post reported.
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