Hundreds gather for rabbi’s NYC funeral despite rules against crowds

De Blasio broke rules, so why can’t we? Hundreds of Orthodox Jews ignore social social distancing for funeral of prominent rabbi in NYC’s Lower East Side – a day after mayor did the same to celebrate Biden’s victory

  • Hundreds mourned passing of Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, 91, at funeral on Sunday 
  • Feinstein was head of the Mesivtha Tifereth Jersualem yeshiva in New York City 
  • Mourners were packed together shoulder to shoulder and not social distancing 
  • On Saturday, large crowds of New Yorkers violated social distancing protocols 
  • Celebrants took to the streets after Joe Biden’s apparent election victory
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio was seen taking selfies with revelers in Brooklyn 

Hundreds – perhaps thousands – of Orthodox Jewish mourners gathered on the Lower East Side of Manhattan on Sunday for the funeral of a prominent rabbi.

The mourners were packed together shoulder to shoulder in violation of social distancing guidelines that have been ignored for the past 24 hours in New York City, where jubilant crowds, which included Mayor Bill de Blasio, erupted in celebration after Joe Biden’s apparent election victory.

The funeral for Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, 91, was held on Sunday outside the Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem, a 113-year-old yeshiva – or religious Jewish education institution – that he headed, The Lo-Down reported.

A massive crowd gathered on New York City's Lower East Side on Sunday to attend the funeral of an influential rabbi

A massive crowd gathered on New York City’s Lower East Side on Sunday to attend the funeral of an influential rabbi

The mourners were packed together shoulder to shoulder in violation of social distancing guidelines that have been ignored for the past 24 hours in New York City, where jubilant crowds erupted in celebration after Joe Biden’s apparent election victory

The mourners were packed together shoulder to shoulder in violation of social distancing guidelines that have been ignored for the past 24 hours in New York City, where jubilant crowds erupted in celebration after Joe Biden’s apparent election victory

The funeral for Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, 91, was held on Sunday at the Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem, a 113-year-old yeshiva - or religious Jewish education institution - that he headed

The funeral for Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, 91, was held on Sunday at the Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem, a 113-year-old yeshiva – or religious Jewish education institution – that he headed

Feinstein’s passing was greeted with sadness across the Jewish world, with many organizations releasing statements of condolences.

‘Heartbroken at news of passing of Rabbi Dovid Feinstein – Rosh HaYeshiva of Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem and Chaver Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah (a council of top rabbinical scholars),’ read a statement from Agudath Israel of America, an umbrella group of Orthodox Jewish organizations. 

‘Agudath Israel and the entire Orthodox community have benefited from his Torah wisdom and guidance for decades – the pain and loss overwhelm.’

The Orthodox Union released a statement which read: ‘The Orthodox Union joins the entire Jewish community in mourning the passing of HaRav Dovid Feinstein, zt”l (“of blessed memory”), one of the generation’s leading poskim, decisors of Jewish law.

‘Rav Feinstein served as the rosh yeshiva of Mesivta Tiferes Jerusalem, located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, since the passing in 1986 of his renowned father Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was pictured on Saturday huddling in close with a number of New Yorkers to snap selfies in Brooklyn

Mayor Bill de Blasio was pictured on Saturday huddling in close with a number of New Yorkers to snap selfies in Brooklyn

The images were shared to Twitter by the NYC Mayor's Office's official page, which included a quote from de Blasio congratulating Biden on his election win

The images were shared to Twitter by the NYC Mayor’s Office’s official page, which included a quote from de Blasio congratulating Biden on his election win

Once the US epicenter of the coronavirus, de Blasio (shown with his wife, Chirlane McCray) has long insisted of the importance of social distancing to stem the spread of COVID-19 in New York

Once the US epicenter of the coronavirus, de Blasio (shown with his wife, Chirlane McCray) has long insisted of the importance of social distancing to stem the spread of COVID-19 in New York

‘In addition to assuming his father’s role as head of the yeshiva, Rav Dovid was relied upon by the Torah community to succeed his father as a preeminent source of Halachic (Jewish clerical law) wisdom.’

Feinstein is the second major rabbinical figure to die in recent days.

Former chief rabbi of Great Britain Lord Jonathan Sacks passed away on Saturday at the age of 72. His death has also been mourned by Jews worldwide.

New York City initially became the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic when it hit the United States earlier this year.

To deal with the public health crisis, the state instituted lockdown measures that prevented people from gathering crowds and forced the closure of businesses, including restaurants, bars, theaters, offices, and sporting events.

But mass crowds did form in New York as well as other cities this year in response to the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

Fears of coronavirus, a deadly disease that has killed more than 24,000 in the city and infected over 275,000 others, appeared to be a distant memory in NYC yesterday. Celebrants are seen above in Washington Square Park

Fears of coronavirus, a deadly disease that has killed more than 24,000 in the city and infected over 275,000 others, appeared to be a distant memory in NYC yesterday. Celebrants are seen above in Washington Square Park

Thousands of New Yorkers gathered in Times Square all day and into the evening on Saturday

Thousands of New Yorkers gathered in Times Square all day and into the evening on Saturday

On Saturday, when networks projected Biden as the winner of the presidential election, millions took to the streets of New York as well as other major cities and towns across the country to celebrate.

De Blasio was among those who also broke social distancing protocol to pose for photos with revelers in the Big Apple on Saturday.

The staunch Trump critic was pictured huddling in close with a number of New Yorkers to snap selfies near Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn.

While de Blasio did wear a mask, he didn’t appear to abide by social distancing guidelines and was seen in at least two images with his arms around supporters and large crowds gathered behind him.

The images were shared to Twitter by the NYC Mayor’s Office’s official page, which included a quote from de Blasio congratulating Biden on his election win.

‘Congratulations, President-elect @JoeBiden and Vice President-elect @KamalaHarris! New York City stands ready to work with you to heal our country and set us on a better path.’

Fears of coronavirus, a deadly disease that has killed more than 24,000 in the city and infected over 275,000 others, appeared to be a distant memory on Saturday as swaths of people gathered, danced and embraced in the streets. 

De Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo were accused of singling out the Orthodox Jewish community after coronavirus lockdown measures were reinstated in specific neighborhoods that saw a viral uptick last month. 

Last month, Orthodox Jewish protesters took to the streets to denounce New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for reimposing lockdown measures on specific neighborhoods due to a spike in COVID-19 cases on Wednesday

Last month, Orthodox Jewish protesters took to the streets to denounce New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for reimposing lockdown measures on specific neighborhoods due to a spike in COVID-19 cases on Wednesday

The governor barred religious gatherings during the Jewish High Holy Days, prompting outrage as well as lawsuits filed by Adudath Israel as well as the Catholic Diocese in Brooklyn. Those lawsuits were unsuccessful.

The renewed lockdowns in Brooklyn, Queens, Broome, Orange and Rockland counties were met with harsh criticism since those areas are home to large Orthodox Jewish populations.

‘Orthodox Jewish gatherings often are very, very large and we’ve seen what one person can do in a group,’ Cuomo said last month.

‘Mass gatherings are the super spreader events. We know there have been mass gatherings going on in concert with religious institutions in these communities for weeks… I’m talking about you’re only supposed to have 50 outdoors, [but] they had 1,000… you don’t see masks and you see clear violation of social-distancing.’

Since COVID-19 cases dropped, the targeted lockdowns, which Cuomo referred to as part of his ‘micro cluster strategy,’ have been lifted.

Coronavirus appears to be on the rise across the country as the winter flu season approaches.  

The US beat its own record of new daily cases for four days straight Saturday, topping 100,000 a day since Wednesday.

Officials are also reporting sharp increases in hospitalizations and daily deaths counts. The US reported more than 1,013 coronavirus deaths Saturday, the fifth straight day that count has surpassed 1,000. 

Since the pandemic began in March, more than 9.96 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 238,000 have died.  

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