Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized the Jewish community in Williamsburg on Tuesday night for defying social distancing orders by holding a massive funeral for a rabbi who died of coronavirus.
Hundreds of Orthodox Jews gathered in the streets near the intersection of Rutledge Street and Bedford Avenue to pay their respects for the rabbi, identified by The Yeshiva World as Chaim Mertz.
“Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter.
“When I heard, I went there myself to ensure the crowd was dispersed. And what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus,” he said.
Photos from the funeral show that while most mourners wore face masks, the crowd far exceeded 50 people in violation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order.
The throngs of people were also crammed together on the sidewalks closer than the recommended six feet apart.
The mayor said he instructed the NYPD to enforce social distancing violations with summonses, or even arrests.
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” the mayor wrote.
“This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.”
A spokesperson for the NYPD said officers on scene did not ticket or arrest anybody.
Jewish community activist Isaac Abraham said the mayoral criticism rang hollow after large crowds congregated across the city earlier on Tuesday to watch the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds fly overhead.
“The crowd for the fighter jets today were around longer than the funeral,” Abraham said.
He also noted that the funeral was not a last minute event that the city was unaware of.
Several NYPD precincts and their community affairs teams helped organize and control the event — setting up five blocks of barricades in advance to help with crowd control.
“There’s an old saying. Don’t rain on our parade,” Abraham said. “To run back to City Hall and send a tweet – this is kicking your friend when they’re down. Way down.”