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NY Board of Rabbis condemns ‘shameful’ violence at Brooklyn coronavirus protests

750-member rabbinic group says it won’t defend those who disregard health guidelines and endanger lives of those around them

Orthodox residents of Borough Park burned masks and blocked city buses Tuesday night to protest NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement that he would impose new restrictions on areas with upticks in coronavirus cases. (Screenshots from WhatsApp via JTA)
Orthodox residents of Borough Park burned masks and blocked city buses Tuesday night to protest NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement that he would impose new restrictions on areas with upticks in coronavirus cases. (Screenshots from WhatsApp via JTA)

JTA — The New York Board of Rabbis condemned recent protests in an Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn at which face masks were burned and at least one person wound up in the hospital after being beaten.

“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 750-member rabbinic group said in a statement Thursday, the New York Post reported.

“We are also appalled by the shameful behavior of those who burn masks or beat people who protest their non-compliance,” the statement added.

The statement comes in the wake of several nights of protests in the heavily Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park against measures the city and state are taking to contain the spread of the coronavirus. At one protest, the brother of Mordy Getz, a well-known Orthodox businessman who had been outspoken about the need for masks and social distancing, was beaten and had to be taken to the hospital. A reporter and a cameraman were also the targets of violence.

Community leaders within the Orthodox community have also spoken out against the protests. “I’m ashamed of what happened,” said Dov Hikind, a former state assemblyman representing heavily Orthodox areas of Brooklyn.

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