New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned the Jewish community that synagogues that continue to defy coronavirus regulations and hold services will be permanently shut down.
While the majority of synagogues have closed in accordance with city orders aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus by limiting social gathering, others have stayed open.
“We’ve had extraordinary, across the board rabbinical support from all the different elements of the Jewish community and the same is true of other faiths as well,” de Blasio said in his Friday news briefing, according to The Jewish Press.
Some synagogues, however, are still holding minyanim, gatherings of 10 worshipers or more, to hold prayer services.
“A small number of religious communities, specific churches and specific synagogues, are unfortunately not paying attention to this guidance even though it’s so widespread,” de Blasio said.
“I want to say to all those who are preparing for the potential of religious services this weekend: If you go to your synagogue, if you go to your church, and attempt to hold services after having been told so often not to, our enforcement agents will have no choice but to shut down those services,” he warned, however admitting that he does not “say this with joy.”
“I understand how important people’s faiths are to them, and we need our faith in this time of crisis. But we do not need gatherings that will endanger people.”
The mayor called on religious citizens, asking that anyone who witnesses services taking place to report to the congregation’s officials and request them to stop services. Should that not be enough, the authorities may “need to take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently.”
De Blasio said people should find other ways to practice their faiths.