Three Orthodox Jews and two Catholic priests are suing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio in federal court for violating their rights by enforcing coronavirus violations against small religious gatherings while allowing thousands of people to take part in public protests over the death of George Floyd, National Review reports.
Citing the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, the lawsuit, filed by Orthodox Jews Elchanan Perr, Daniel Schonborn, and Mayer Mayerfeld, along with priests Steven Soos and Nicholas Stamos, accuses the governor and mayor of using “blatant double standards.”
“The COVID-19 related orders purport to be facially neutral, yet fail to prohibit secular activity that endangers the state interest in ‘public health’ equally or to a greater degree than the prohibited religious conduct,” Christopher Ferrara, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said. “Why is a large worship gathering deemed more dangerous than a mass protest, full of shouting, arm-waving people in close proximity to one another?”
Hundreds of chasidic children in Williamsburg have been demanding that Gov. Cuomo open sleepaway camps. Videos posted to Twitter in recent weeks showed young boys on bikes and scooters riding through the streets of the neighborhood. In a video shared by the Orthodox news site Vos Iz Neias, children gathered on a street in Borough Park after dark. In another video shared by Orthodox journalist Jake Turx, children blocked traffic on a Borough Park street in front of a yeshiva. “We want camp,” they shouted as a city bus honked.
Cuomo has said day camps can open with social distancing in place. He has not yet announced whether overnight camps, which many Orthodox children attend, can operate.
Jewish children who are unable to attend now-cancelled summer camps in this country may soon have the choice of 30 such camps in Israel under the auspices of a national organization, the Times of Israel reports. The organization, Summer Camps Israel, is offering information on summer programs that range from five-days to 14-days. Some of the camps have existed for years while others are completely new, with others adding extra days and campers to their usual summertime camping trips.
There still isn’t an official go-ahead from government ministries for holding camp this summer. For now, the organizers are double-checking insurance and refund policies, given the unknowns due to the coronavirus.
Top haredi rabbis and the Sephardic chief rabbi are split over Shabbat temperature checks to prevent the spread of Covid-19, according to Times of Israel. In Israel, the thermometers are used at the entrance to hospitals to make sure that people who enter do not have fevers, one symptom of the coronavirus. The thermometers could also be used by synagogues around the world to measure the temperature of worshippers arriving for Shabbat services.
Last week, five senior haredi rabbis said in an official letter that the temperature checks mean that it is forbidden to enter the hospital on Shabbat, unless it is a life-threatening situation. “There are concerns about the prohibition of work on Shabbat in both the heat measurement and the writing generated on the monitor,” read the letter. The letter said hospitals could circumvent the issue by having non-Jews perform the checks.
But Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, ruled that it is permitted to enter a hospital on Shabbat if a person’s temperature is automatically taken. The Zomet Institute, an Israeli nonprofit that designs electronics and other equipment that can be used by observant Jews on Shabbat, recently developed a digital thermometer that does not require users to engage in activities prohibited on Shabbat. The thermometer detects a temperature every four seconds, so no one needs to operate the electronic device to take a measurement, and the way the readings are displayed are designed not to constitute forbidden writing.
Israel is deporting the son of American media magnate Shari Redstone for violating the country’s coronavirus quarantine rules while paying a secret visit to his model girlfriend, Associated Press reports. Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority said it had given Brandon Korff an exceptional permit to enter the country on Friday to visit his brother, who is serving in the Israeli military.
But Korff “violated the isolation orders from the moment he entered the country and met his Israeli partner” and “stayed with her in the same apartment.” It said Korff, son of the chairwoman of ViacomCBS, was ordered to leave the country immediately.
The statement did not identify the partner. But Korff, who is in his mid-30s, is dating Israeli model Yael Shelbia. The 18-year-old model, who is doing compulsory military service, has appeared in campaigns for Israeli clothing company Renuar and Kim Kardashian’s KKW Beauty makeup line.
“Defying their own dire projection, the Orthodox Jewish community of Antwerp has weathered the coronavirus surprisingly well.” In a country where the coronavirus has killed about 10,000, only 11 people from the city’s Jewish community have succumbed to the disease.
As part of a “92Y Confronts Hate” online speaking series, the 92nd Street Y is offering programs on June 15 (7 p.m.) and June 18 (5 p.m.). The series discusses the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police and the “countless senseless deaths of African-Americans that have pushed hundreds of thousands of people around the world into the streets to call for justice,” On Monday Rabbi Peter Rubinstein will speak with playwright Anna Deavere Smith. On Thursday he will speak with Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, spiritual leader of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs will sponsor an online program, Ending Racism in America: A Discussion with Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP, on Tuesday at 2 p.m.
The Orthodox Union’s Yachad program will hold a fundraising program, Battle of the Singers: Benny Friedman vs. Mordechai Shapiro!, on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
A documentary on Operation Wedding, an unsuccessful 1970 plan to hijack a plane from the Soviet Union to draw attention to the plight of Soviet Jews, will be available for online screening from Wednesday at 9 a.m. to Thursday at 9 a.m. It is in English, Russian and Hebrew with English subtitles. A panel and discussion with the director will follow.
The National Museum of American Jewish History will sponsor a three-part online series, Songs of Our People, Songs of Our Neighbors, on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The next parts of the series will be offered on June 24 and July 1. The programs explore music from varied Jewish traditions and diverse cultures, from the historic and “traditional to the contemporary and reimagined.”
The JCC of Mid-Westchester and American Friends of Magen David Adom will offer a Virtual Tour of the Jewish Museum on Thursday at 2 p.m.
interfaith online panel discussion on Confronting Racism in Faith on Friday at 1:30 p.m. The speakers: Deacon Rodney Beckford, Catholic Charities Kennedy Center Harlem; Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah; Rev. Jacqui Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church, and Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein, Community Scholar.
Join The Jewish Week and UJA-Federation of New York for “On the Trail of Kafka’s Literary Afterlife with Benjamin Balint,” Thursday, June 25, 6:00 pm. Balint, winner of the 2020 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for his book “Kafka’s Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy,” will be in conversation with Sandee Brawarsky, culture editor of The Jewish Week. The event is free but you must register here.