Brooklyn synagogue blasted over funeral told to shut down services

Cease-and-desist order served to Congregation Kahal Tolaas Yaakov, which has continued to hold services after drawing mayor’s ire over procession attended by hundreds

An April 29 funeral for a rabbi in Brooklyn attended by hundreds. (Reuven Blau/Twitter via JTA)
An April 29 funeral for a rabbi in Brooklyn attended by hundreds. (Reuven Blau/Twitter via JTA)

JTA — The New York Health Department has sent a warning to the Brooklyn synagogue whose funeral for their spiritual leader two weeks ago led Mayor Bill de Blasio to lash out at the entire Jewish community.

A cease-and-desist order was served Friday as Congregation Kahal Tolaas Yaakov, located in the Williamsburg neighborhood, continued to violate the state’s executive order prohibiting gatherings and religious services.

The order was first reported by the Jewish Insider news website.

If the synagogue continues to defy the executive order prohibiting non-essential large gatherings, then it will be shut down, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office told Jewish Insider.

The synagogue held a memorial for Rabbi Chaim Mertz, with the participation of at least 100 people, a week after the April 29 funeral and a week before the order was served, according to Jewish Insider.

Some 2,500 mourners attended the funeral for Mertz and did not observe the proper social distancing rules as the crowd surged after the body in the streets of Brooklyn. Police, who had been contacted about the funeral and set up barricades, later dispersed the crowds.

The synagogue issued a statement after the funeral saying that it had expected mourners to follow social distancing rules and regretted that they had not.

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