The Puppeteers, a Flyover, a Series of Crowded Funerals, Mayor de Blasio and Covid-19 – [Part IV]

Hundreds of mourners gather in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, to observe a funeral for Rabbi Chaim Mertz, a Hasidic Orthodox leader whose death was reportedly tied to the coronavirus. The stress of the coronavirus' toll on New York City's Orthodox Jews was brought to the fore on Wednesday after Mayor Bill de Blasio chastised "the Jewish community" following the breakup of the large funeral that flouted public health orders.
Hundreds of mourners gather in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, to observe a funeral for Rabbi Chaim Mertz, a Hasidic Orthodox leader whose death was reportedly tied to the coronavirus. The stress of the coronavirus’ toll on New York City’s Orthodox Jews was brought to the fore on Wednesday after Mayor Bill de Blasio chastised “the Jewish community” following the breakup of the large funeral that flouted public health orders.(Peter Gerber/AP)

Several Funerals Later, Letters of Support and an Analysis of New York’s Power Holders

OPINION – LostMessiah 5.1.20 [updated 5:31pm][update 8:38pm previous version referred to Shesh Besh as Chess when Chess is actually “Shach” in Hebrew].

Over the last few days we have written three separate opinions about the “Massive” funeral that took place on the streets of Williamsburg, on April 28, 2020, the irresponsibility of the event, the flagrant defiance of social distancing and, well… the potential that the whole event was pre-approved by the Mayor’s office. Like the counting of the Omer, we suspect that in about 12 days there will be a significant increase of Covid-19 illnesses in New York. They likely will go unreported lest the truth be told that the attending members of the community have, indeed, helped transfer the virus from person to person.

Since that time there has been a smaller funeral in Monsey (not yet in the news but we have video of that funeral), albeit better about the social distancing, and another much larger funeral in Borough Park, social distancing be damned. An article in The Yeshivah World from April 30, 2020, tells that story, videos and all: AGAIN: Levaya In Boro Park Turns Chaotic With NYPD Response [VIDEOS]

There is no excuse for this absolute defiance of religiously observant people. The larger New York and worldwide demographic have the right to be angry. There is blame to be shouldered; and a community that allows, if not encourages, large ritualistic events should receive its fair share of the condemnation, whatever the religion.

We find ourselves wondering at what point the community that continues to defy the entire notion of social distancing will decide that far too many are dying and even more are being put at risk for each widely attended funeral, wedding, bris, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and the list goes on. The irony of putting people in danger at a funeral for someone who died of the very disease we are trying to stop is not lost on us and should not be so easily dismissed by religious fervency. We view this as a bastardization of a beautiful religion, ignoring the spirit in favor of the letter, something that should be disavowed by all. Continue reading

A Denial, A Flyover, a Crowded Funeral, Mayor de Blasio and Covid-19 – Who’s Really Running New York? [Part III]

Tipster blau108425The Three Accounts of the 2500 Guest Funeral in Williamsburg and The Power-Holders in New York 

OPINION – LostMessiah 4.30.20

[updated 5.1.20 5:32 pm, an earlier version claimed the Williamsburg funeral took place on April 27, 2020]

There are conflicting stories about the massive funeral that was held in Williamsburg April 28, 2020, in the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic. In one version of events, unbeknownst to the Mayor’s office a Haredi group held a massive funeral, failed to social distance, attended by thousands and utterly lawless. Upon hearing of it,  Mayor de Blasio lost his mind with anger and came to the rescue. He scattered the people, broke up the funeral and then, in a scathing set of Twitter posts, admonished the group that held the funeral, while also, albeit inadvertently, painting all Jews as the villains. We were able to accept that last point because, well… the whole soiree was a major mess that put thousands of people at risk of catching Covid-19.

The second version of events is a bit different. In this portrait of NY, Mayor de Blasio had pre-approved the funeral. He had even sent New York Police Department members to the site to hand out masks, keep order and prevent the event from moving out of designated areas. How is that possible, you ask? We will get this that. In this version, almost more believable (and infuriating) than the first, Mayor de Blasio is complicit in putting people at risk and exposing thousands of New Yorkers to Covid-19. In this scenario, de Blasio, realized that this funeral was no small affair (as he was allegedly promised), but comprised of thousands of Haredim (who were not only locals but who had been bused in). The mourners were not social-distancing, but rather were standing largely unmasked and shoulder-to-shoulder to mourn this Blessed Rabbi. So, Mayor de Blasio angrily raced to the scene of lawlessness and assisted in dispersing the people, whom he had approved to be there.

In contrast to our unlikely hero in the first version of events, in the second one, de Blasio’s angry Tweets are not that of a frustrated mayor responding to a lawless community, but rather a willing accomplice who made a choice to scapegoat anyone and everyone to save his own skin. In Prisoner’s Dilemma terms, this second scenario characterizes Mayor de Blasio as the prisoner who turns against the other two, a woefully inadequate response when thousands of New Yorkers’ lives are now in newly constructed Covid-19 jeopardy.

Continue reading

A Cluster F@#K, A Flyover, a Massive Crowded Funeral in Williamsburg, Mayor de Blasio and Covid-19 (Part II)

The funeral at Bedford Avenue and Rutledge Street on Tuesday night
The funeral at Bedford Avenue and Rutledge Street on Tuesday night PROVIDED TO GOTHAMIST

Did Mayor de Blasio First Coordinate and then Castigate a Funeral Procession (his Police Department Helped Organize)? If so, What Does that Say About the State of Affairs in New York

This is a follow-up to our last piece entitled:

A Flyover, a Massive Crowded Funeral in Williamsburg, Mayor de Blasio and Covid-19

The following is a commentary based upon new information that we have obtained through the day.

We were hopeful that finally Mayor Bill de Blasio had put his foot down to the violations of social mandates by a small but not insignificant community. The NYPD has repeatedly had to break up funeral gatherings and other social soirees in religious communities in New York. Each such event runs the risk of infecting thousands of New Yorkers (and New Jerseyites) with Covid-19; but, to the extent de Blasio could look the other way, de Blasio has done just that. Time and time again, he has avoided controversy while still juggling political expediency.

But, to help organize a massive funeral in a pandemic? Really?

De Blasio’s various campaigns have been well funded by members of the religious community (and their attorneys and media consultants), and not just the Jewish community. His public records of campaign finances are a veritable whose who of influential people and activists and those that represent him. Members of the funeral-hosting Haredi community have gotten special treatment when it comes to real estate deals. Nursing homes are largely unregulated, whether that has anything to do with de Blasio and his office or not is anyone’s guess in bedlam, oops, Gotham. And the Shomrim are largely funded by NYS taxpayer dollars in one form or another.

How many communities get their own assisted police and ambulance forces, sometimes better equipped than those that are by New York’s public system? We don’t know nor do we judge. We stand by our position, however, that the Shomrim’s days should be numbered in favor of a more unified police force in New York. But these are the ways of politics and de Blasio has the financial remains of a Presidential bid to account for, or not.

So, yesterday’s utter castigation of the attendees to a massive funeral procession felt oddly like de Blasio was finally standing up for all Jews and all residents of the City of New York (and New Jersey). There are too few degrees of separation in a City so packed with people. In a Borough that has nearly the largest number of sick to healthy people on the various Covid-Scales, to have a safe giant funeral is impossible. Mayor de Blasio’s march to the scene of the funeral to help disperse the crowd felt somewhat heroic (albeit admittedly naive).

The mere mortals of this world, Jewish or otherwise, have had to bury our dead largely alone or with the help of online media portals. A Rabbi’s funeral, despite broad accounts of its importance in Jewish observance, still cannot undo the mandates of Pikuach Nefesh as it applies to the lack of safety in numbers with Covid-19 so easily transmitted. But we suppose a belief in Pikuach Nefesh presupposes a belief in the underlying science. 

We accepted if not celebrated de Blasio’s response to the massive funeral procession as a measured response to frustration with a community that has violated the social distancing laws to the detriment of all New Yorkers. We thought that finally the camel’s back had broken. The religious community, small as it may be or not, that has thumbed its nose to social distancing (and the science behind it) has raised the ire of Jews and non Jews everywhere. So finally, de Blasio did it! He yelled! He Tweeted! He stood up and said, “Enough.” And in so doing he was unsurprisingly called an anti-Semite.

Of course, waiving that flag in the Covid-19 environment is a measured response (sarcasm intended).

But then the bubble burst. “Drach!” Gone. Mayor de Blasio’s office, we are told, helped to organize the very funeral procession he then needed to disperse and openly excoriate. What was that? He was not looking out for regular New Yorkers? Apparently not. He was doing damage control; and if that meant pinning blame on a large swath of New York, all Jews, then let the rip cord fly.

And, that is a disappointment. 

If Mayor de Blasio used a broad stroke to include all Jews in his criticism of the Haredi community that violated social distancing, out of frustration for an event  the Haredim held that places all New Yorkers at risk, so-be-it. If they did not like the heat, they should not have piled 2500 deep into the Williamsburg kitchen.

But if Mayor de Blasio first approved that gathering and then used the Jews as a scapegoat to put out what otherwise might have been a media firestorm, he is no better than the worst of the politicians there are out there. And if that last point is true, we in our previous criticism owe our apologies to the organizers of the event.

If Mayor de Blasio’s office approved the funeral, helped to keep it organized, and then misread the magnitude, the community that hosted the funeral with approvals cannot be held to account for the fallout.

That responsibility rests squarely on de Blasio’s shoulders.

If that latter point is true and if people get sick in two weeks from yesterday, any blood will, if he approved the event, be on de Blasio’s shoulders, not the shoulders of the organizers of the event.

Crowded Hasidic Funeral In Williamsburg Was Coordinated And Approved By NYPD

Mayor Bill de Blasio personally helped disperse a crowded Hasidic funeral in Williamsburg on Tuesday night, sending thousands of mourners scattering on Bedford Avenue before issuing a stern warning on Twitter to “the Jewish community, and all communities.”

“Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite [sic]: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic,” de Blasio wrote. “What I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus.”

Twelve summonses were issued to those violating social distancing restrictions, according to Police Commissioner Dermott Shea. There were no arrests. “We cannot have what we had last night,” Shea told reporters on Wednesday. “We will not tolerate it.”

But according to Hasidic community leaders, the police department actually approved and helped coordinate the procession, which was held for local rabbi Chaim Mertz. Hours before the intervention, the NYPD’s Community Affairs Unit erected barricades in the area and worked with Shomrim, an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood patrol group, to ensure the funeral could take place.

“We had an understanding with the police department that the Shomrim patrol would have 50 members and make sure everyone is wearing masks,” Rabbi Abe Friedman, a Williamsburg community leader, told Gothamist. “We can’t cancel a funeral of a very prominent rabbi, it’s not realistic.”

“It was supposed to be a very organized, safe, very short final goodbye,” he added. “Unfortunately, some people overacted and saw tons of people on the street and started dispersing the crowd and that caused a very big issue.”

Since the pandemic began, the NYPD has repeatedly broken up well-attended funeral gatherings in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, which have seen some of the highest rates of COVID-19 deaths. A police spokesperson would not say why the funeral was allowed to take place, or how the department decides to enforce social distancing laws.

To continue reading in the Gothamist, click here.

 

ADDITIONAL READING:

Jewish funeral in Williamsburg on 4/28/20.Photos: Peter Gerber
A crowd of people in Williamsburg at the funeral of a rabbi.

NYPD commissioner: Gatherings like Brooklyn funeral put cops’ ‘lives at risk’

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday that large gatherings like an Orthodox funeral held in Brooklyn Tuesday night were endangering his police officers — as the mayor claimed he has a “long, deep relationship with the Orthodox Jewish community.”

Shea, who said a paltry 12 summonses were issued, also pushed back against criticism that other groups were holding similar gatherings.

“There was two funerals last weekend for members of the NYPD, we would normally have probably tens of thousands of people at that funeral, we had a handful,” Shea said of scaled-down police officer funerals.

“People have to be accountable for their own actions, regardless of what neighborhood, ethnicity, where they come from, we cannot have what we had last night. We will not tolerate it.”

To continue reading, click here.

NYPD was warned ‘big crowd’ would turn out for rabbi’s funeral

The NYPD was warned that the funeral of a prominent Brooklyn rabbi would draw a “big crowd” and sent dozens of cops with barricades and light towers — despite a ban on mass gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Post has learned.

But the situation in Williamsburg got out of hand when mourners surged toward the synagogue because a plan to relay the service over loudspeakers was unexpectedly canceled, a longtime liaison between the Hasidic Satmar community and the NYPD said Wednesday.

Moses Weiser said he “personally spoke” with NYPD Capt. Mark Vazquez before Tuesday’s funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz, who reportedly died of COVID-19.

“I asked him to use his resources however he wants to put this together, and he basically told us that we should follow his instructions,” Weiser said.

“We knew there was going to be a big crowd, especially now with no schools open, no yeshivas open — everyone wants to pay their respects to such a man.”

Weiser said Mertz’s synagogue, Tolas Yakov Bais Hamedrash, “originally wanted to have just family” outside “and we would set up speakers down the street a couple of blocks so that people could spread out and listen.”

“But an order came from somewhere to cancel the speakers, I’m not sure where the order came from, and so people started gathering close to see what was going on and to hear,” he said.

To continue reading, click here. 

A Flyover, a Massive Crowded Funeral in Williamsburg, Mayor de Blasio and Covid-19

 

Tipster blau108425

Thousands of Orthodox Jewish mourners crowded a Brooklyn street Tuesday, April 28, flouting the city’s social distancing rules to mourn a rabbi who died of coronavirus.
Thousands of Orthodox Jewish mourners crowded a Brooklyn street Tuesday, April 28, flouting the city’s social distancing rules to mourn a rabbi who died of coronavirus.(@menasheshapiro / Twitter)

 

How Dare the Haredi Community, Cheskel Bennett, Chaim Deutsch, OJPAC and Others Slam Mayor De Blasio After He Broke up 2500 People Gathered for A Funeral? They are Not Speaking for the Jews?

by LostMessiah and Team

We commend the tipsters who posted pictures and video of a massive funeral  on Twitter and YouTube. It takes a village to raise a child and apparently heroes to to save the world.

The audacity of the Haredi Community, its leaders, activists and spokespeople knows no bounds. Last night Mayor Bill de Blasio accompanied by New York Police Department members, broke up a “massive” funeral that lined the streets of Williamsburg.

Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD were putting their lives at risk by being forced to demand compliance with laws that should be self-evident at this juncture. De Blasio was rightfully livid, irate, and more than willing to place blame where it rightfully belongs, on the community that attended that funeral. It does not matter that the community is Jewish. It does not matter that anti-Semitism is on the rise. The massive congregation of people for that funeral is a clear and unequivocally indefensible violation of the rules of large gatherings and social distancing. If the Jewish community that attended that funeral doesn’t want to increase anti-Semitism, they shouldn’t be throwing their defiance of laws in the faces of New Yorkers and all US citizens who are complying with mandates.

The “Yeshiva World News” is quoted as saying “Williamsburg Shomrim was seen on video before it started doing their best and prepared masks to be handed out to everyone. Unfortunately, the social distancing was not what it should be been.”

There are so many points here that are problematic. The Williamsburg Shomrim, allegedly an arm of law enforcement and funded largely by New York City’s taxpayers, should have been breaking up the crowd not assisting them to stay safe while violating the law. That’s like putting out a ladder for a thief so he doesn’t get hurt breaking into a store from the roof, instead of calling police to tell them a crime is in progress. It’s unrivaled defiance and the Shomrim, which we have always believed needs to be sunsetted out of New York law enforcement circles, has indeed proven us right yet again.  

Two Thousand, Five-Hundred (2500) people gathered in Willaimsburg for the Rabbi’s funeral, who himself died of Covid-19. They crowded the narrow and impassable streets of Williamsburg, most not donning face masks (despite the efforts of Shomrim). Setting aside that Kings County has one of the highest per-capita death rates from Covid-19 in New York City’s five boroughs and setting aside that the Blessed Rabbi died, ironically, from Covid-19, do the mourners really want to be pulling (or pushing) others into the grave with the rabbi?

Was this massive event really necessary? No.

Did it violate the Halachic principles of Pikuach Nefesh, which states that human life above all else must be protected? Yes.

And more to the point was it responsible? No.

Did it abide by the rules of social distancing? No.

Did it put others unnecessarily in danger, and that includes any first responders who will inevitably treat the sick and the Shomrim allegedly “doing their best”? Yes.

Continue reading

Serial Fraudsters are no Different from Other Serial Criminals – Rechnitz Feeling Impervious in CA?

Jona Rechnitz in an undated photo.

Corrupt Mayor de Blasio donor Jona Rechnitz faces new FBI probe in L.A.: court papers

Notorious Mayor de Blasio donor Jona Rechnitz faces a new FBI investigation in Los Angeles, only months after he was sentenced for bribing public officials in New York.

Rechnitz’s latest legal trouble was revealed as part of an ongoing $7 million debt dispute in Los Angeles County Superior Court with a Beverly Hills investor, Victor Franco Noval.

Rechnitz’s attorneys wrote in a letter made public late Monday that they could not respond to the civil suit because it relates to the “subject matter of an ongoing criminal investigation led by the FBI.”

 

Noval’s attorney Ronald Richards said the FBI investigation was likely examining allegations Rechnitz was running a scam involving loans in exchange for diamonds he didn’t actually own.

“Basically he was borrowing money on diamonds that weren’t his — on top of creating one lie on top of another to keep the loans going,” Richards said.

To continue reading, click here.

Metziza B’Peh, A Ritual that Should be ILLEGAL – This is Not Religion, its Politically Endorsed Child Abuse

A photo of a man holding a "Blood Libel" sign during a heated circumcision hearing in 2013

A man holding a “Blood Libel” sign during a heated Board of Health circumcision hearing in 2013. ALEC TABAK/GOTHAMIST

Multiple Babies Infected With Herpes From Ritual Circumcisions In Recent Months

At least four babies in NYC have been infected with herpes from mohels performing the metzitzah b’peh ritual since September 2019. According to a report from the CDC, three of those babies have been infected since December; all three have been admitted to the hospital and are reportedly recovering now. Herpes can cause severe infection in babies resulting in brain damage and death.

The “metzitzah b’peh” ritual is the circumcision practice in which a mohel sucks the blood from a freshly snipped foreskin of a baby boy. Outside of the ultra-Orthodox community, the ritual is shunned by Jews, and is considered by many to be an ancient tradition based on “a long-discredited medical theory from the Iron Age before the dawn of the Common Era.”
“Protecting the health and wellbeing of infants is always the city’s first priority,” said Department Of Health spokesperson Patrick Gallahue. “The spread of neonatal herpes through ritual circumcision is a public health risk. To address this risk, we will continue to work with providers and families across our city to keep our youngest New Yorkers safe.”

The DOH added they have started doing outreach to medical providers in the orthodox Jewish community on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of herpes in newborns, and warn families about the risks of this particular ritual. At least one of the babies recently diagnosed was not immediately hospitalized because health care providers did not recognize the signs of infection.

The Health Department also noted that there have been no reported cases of herpes from the ritual in the city since 2017, when it came out that at least six babies had been infected with herpes since Mayor de Blasio came into office. At the time, two of the six mohels who infected the babies were identified and ordered to stop performing the ritual. De Blasio acknowledged that the policy at the time was not working.

Under the Bloomberg administration, the Board of Health ruled that “parents need to be aware of the opinion of experts,” and introduced circumcision consent forms that required parents to sign a waiver before their infant could undergo the procedure. The city was immediately sued by ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups, who claimed their First Amendment rights were violated.

When he was first running for office, de Blasio criticized the Bloomberg administration for not doing enough community outreach, but stopped short of promising to dispose of the consent forms. His subsequent criticism of the consent forms helped him win over ultra-Orthodox Jewish voters and further distinguish himself from Bloomberg, saying, “I would start over and change the policy to find a way to protect all of our children but also respect religious tradition.” As Failed Messiah put it at the time, “Bill De Blasio Promises Satmar That In Exchange For Votes, He Will Repeal Informed Consent For Dangerous Haredi Circumcision Practice.”

To continue reading click here.

 

ADDITIONAL READING:

WPIX News 11

Several infants contract herpes during Jewish circumcision ritual

“Protecting the health and wellbeing of infants is always the city’s first priority,” a Health Department spokesman said. “The spread of neonatal herpes through ritual circumcision is a public health risk. To address this risk, we will continue to work with providers and families across our city to keep our youngest New Yorkers safe.”

Infants have died after contracting herpes.

To read article in entirety click here.

The Wall Street Journal

City Flags Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Circumcision Ritual Following New Herpes Cases

Four recent cases of neonatal herpes infection following a Jewish circumcision ritual have health officials once again urging parents in New York City’s ultra-Orthodox population to avoid the practice or at least limit its risks.

Health officials on Sunday said there have been three cases of herpes simplex virus 1 infections in infant boys reported to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene since Dec. 1, 2019. The fourth case was reported in September 2019.

To read article in entirety click here.

Times of Israel

4 NY babies get herpes from Jewish circumcision rite in past 6 months

The custom is rarely practiced outside the haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, community. Other mohels use a sterile pipette for the practice.

It has been a political football in New York City with its large haredi population. In February 2015, the city eliminated a parental consent form mandated by former mayor Michael Bloomberg. The form was replaced with an educational brochure in 2015.

Six families in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, had children contract herpes between 2015 and mid-2017 from metzitzah b’pehNone of the families would give the name of the mohel to the Health Department.

At least 11 boys contracted herpes from the practice between 2004 and 2011. Two died and two suffered brain damage.

To read article in entirety click here.

Reaching a New Low…. A Coordinated Effort to Perpetuate the Educational Neglect of Yeshiva Children, NY

Dear Readers:

The denial of education of Yeshiva children is a travesty of epic proportions.

Mayor De Blasio, the Mayor New York, and State reviewers are alleged to have conspired to deny children an appropriate education, an effort at assisting yeshivas in avoiding any form of mandated education for New York’s children.

The report released this week on the city’s yeshivas seemed alarming. Just two of the 28 yeshivas city officials visited met state educational standards. But on Friday, Mayor de Blasio said a lot of progress is being made, while also issuing a warning.

“All but five are going to get where they need to get. There are five that I think if they don’t make serious progress soon, they’re going to be in real danger of financial sanctions or worse,” said de Blasio.

Separately, independent city watchdogs this week said the de Blasio administration had engaged in political horse-trading, agreeing to delay an earlier, interim report on the status of its investigation… part of a deal to extend mayoral control of city schools. But as de Blasio pointed out, there was no evidence politics had played a role in the investigation itself.

Mayor de Blasio Comments On Yeshiva Investigation

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