Jewish leaders, elected officials condemn de Blasio for 'scapegoating' Jewish community
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Jewish leaders and some elected officials condemned New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioBiden pledges to work with mayors Hundreds of bodies from New York virus surge still stored in freezer trucks Cuomo gets heated with reporters over NYC schools: 'What are you talking about? MORE (D) for “scapegoating” the Jewish community when responding to the crowds at a rabbi’s funeral Tuesday. 

More than 100 rabbis, Jewish community leaders, elected officials, temples and organizations signed a letter sent to de Blasio on Thursday, calling for a meeting to “discuss constructive approaches” to fighting the pandemic. The letter was organized by the New York Jewish Agenda to “express our anger and disappointment at your scapegoating the Jewish community in response” to Tuesday’s funeral. 

The leaders acknowledged the need “for strict social distancing” during the pandemic but added “this is not the way.”

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Rabbi Chaim Mertz’s funeral attracted hundreds of mourners to a neighborhood in Brooklyn on Tuesday, leading the New York Police Department and the mayor himself to break up the crowds. Mertz reportedly died from COVID-19.

De Blasio tweeted Tuesday a message directed to “the Jewish community, and all communities,” that police can proceed to summons or arrest those found in large groups.

The letter slams de Blasio for referring to the funeralgoers as “the Jewish community,” saying it “flattens a diverse group of New Yorkers into a single bloc and fuels the anti-Semitic hatreds that bubble beneath the surface of our society.”

“This singling out is especially potent because it aligns with longstanding antisemitic tropes that have, for millenia, blamed Jews for societal ills,” the letter continues. 

The leaders cite examples of Jewish groups doing community service during the coronavirus crisis, including organizing blood plasma donations, testing facilities and food banks. 

“As Jews, we come together, at times of prayer, celebration, and mourning, making social distancing particularly crushing for our community,” the letter said. “Jews have overwhelmingly led and acted responsibly in this moment of social distancing. To suggest otherwise on the actions of a few is the deepest form of marginalization.”

The signatories included Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats accuse GSA of undermining national security by not certifying Biden win Barr sparks DOJ firestorm with election probes memo Marijuana stocks see boost after Harris debate comments MORE (D-N.Y.), two state senators, three state assembly members and two council members.

De Blasio's spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said the mayor has apologized for his choice of words.

"It was not his intention to offend anyone," Goldstein said in a statement. "He was angry at the recklessness of the situation and concerned about the health and safety of the Hasidic community and New Yorkers and spoke out in the heat of the moment."

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The mayor defended his post at his Wednesday press conference saying that he experienced “real distress” from the crowds he was seeing and was speaking with “tough love.”

“Members of the Jewish community were putting each other in danger, they were putting our police officers in danger,” he said. “Now, if I see it in any other community, I will call it out equally.”

“I have no regrets about calling out this danger and saying we’re going to deal with it very, very aggressively,” he added.

—Updated at 7:04 p.m.