Jewish Congregations Sue New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo For Hot Spot Lockdowns, Say They’re Anti-Semitic

(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Three Rockland County Jewish congregations filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, claiming his recent crackdown on religious gatherings to reduce the coronavirus infection rate is “anti-Semitic.”

The suit seeks to end Cuomo’s red-zone coronavirus restrictions, which cover seven square miles in Rockland County, home to 133 synagogues, 20 yeshivas and 14 Jewish day schools, the lawsuit says.

Two of the synagogues are located in Rockland’s red zone and one in the yellow zone, according to the Patch. The positivity rate in the rest of New York was .99 percent Wednesday, while Rockland posted a positivity rate of 3.6 percent overall and 8.4 percent in red-zones, per the same report.

Cuomo issued an executive order on Oct. 6 limiting the size of religious gatherings in COVID-19 hot spots to 25% capacity or a maximum of 10 people in red-zones, the Associated Press (AP) reported. His order came one day after he threatened to shut down synagogues. (RELATED: Orthodox Jewish Community Protests Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New Coronavirus Lockdown Restrictions)

The suit alleges Cuomo’s executive order “is blatantly anti-Semitic, creating religious-observance based color coded ‘hot-spot’ zones directed towards particular Jewish communities,” and “specifically singles out the orthodox Jewish community in what has proven to be the latest extension of Governor Cuomo’s streak of anti-Semitic discrimination.”

However, Cuomo denied allegations Thursday that he was specifically targeting the Orthodox community, instead blaming local governments for not enforcing gathering restrictions back in March, which he said led the Jewish communities to believe they were exempt.

“The majority of Ultra Orthodox groups I’ve spoken with have been cooperative,” Cuomo said, according to the AP. “There’s a relatively small number that’s uncooperative, and just believe they should be exempt from these government operations.”

“They never complied with any of the close-down rules going back to March. That’s why some find this shocking, because they didn’t follow any of the rules all along,” Cuomo said, per Patch.

The suit comes more than a week after Cuomo gave Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio the green light to lockdown 20 coronavirus hotspots throughout the city, which includes nine largely Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.