Despite apologizing for appearing to single out New York’s Jewish community for violating social distancing protocol during a prominent rabbi’s funeral procession, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he had no regrets over his intentions.
“If in my passion and in my emotion, I said something that in any way was hurtful, I’m sorry about that. That was not my intention,” de Blasio said during a Wednesday news conference.
“But I also want to be clear: I have no regrets about calling out this danger and saying we’re going to deal with it very, very aggressively.”
On Tuesday, scores of Hasidic Jews believed to number over 2,000, according to CNN, gathered in the streets on Tuesday to pay respects for Rabbi Chaim Mertz, the leading rabbi of the Tola’as Yaakov Hasidic sect, who died of coronavirus at age 73.
The mayor personally came down to witness the scene and instructed the NYPD to disperse the gathering.
“What I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the coronavirus,” de Blasio tweeted late Tuesday night. “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: The time for warnings has passed.”
De Blasio’s overbroad wording caused a rabbinical group to demand an apology.
“Mayor de Blasio’s point about the absolute necessity to social distance, and enforcement thereof, are not disputed,” Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, chairman of the CJV Rabbinic Circle, an organization representing over 1500 rabbis in matters of public policy, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“But singling out Jews as an ethnic group is repugnant. He has never done this with any other community.”
With New York being America’s epicenter of corona-related deaths and infections, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a mandatory stay-at-home order on April 16 on the entire state in an effort to curb the spread of the deadly virus.