‘Are we in a pandemic or not?” a reporter from the Orthodox Jewish newspaper Hamodia asked New York Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday. “And do we have one set of rules for protesters and another for everyone else?”
Good questions. For nearly three months, the country founded to guarantee religious freedom has seen its houses of worship shut down. Following local and state executive orders, Catholic churches held no Mass. Communion wasn’t taken, confessions weren’t heard, and Catholics went to their final rest without the comfort of the sacraments. Jewish prayer services, which require a quorum, were broken up by city governments or banned by state executive orders. New York City police were dispatched to break up a Jewish funeral and close down a yeshiva where Jews teach their children Torah.
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple,” Mr. de Blasio thundered in an infamous tweet, after having dispatched police to break up a funeral: “The time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.”
All this seems a little odd now. Protesters in New York and across the U.S. have gone unmolested while gathering in “large groups,” even as rioters smashed and looted and set fire to public and private property. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who not long ago said keeping houses of worship shut was essential to save lives, marched on Tuesday with protesters, his mask and his lockdown suddenly forgotten.
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