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October 6, 2020 5:46 am

Everyone Must Wear a Mask and Social Distance

avatar by Ronn Torossian

Opinion

People wear protective masks as they walk around central Jerusalem, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, July 7, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.

I am a proud traditional Jew. My children attend Jewish day schools, and we attend Orthodox synagogues. Inside and outside the Jewish community, mask wearing and social distancing should not be political statements.

As countless religious leaders have said, health is more important than minyans and mikvahs. This is a devastating virus which has shut down the entire world. None of us are exempt.

Yet, there are some distressing images from the Jewish community in both Israel and the United States.

In Jerusalem on Monday, nearly 20 people were arrested for disturbing the peace and throwing stones at officers during an operation to enforce coronavirus regulations in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in the city. Throughout different areas of New York City, there have been images of people gathering for prayers, and not wearing masks.

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While the vast majority of the community is doing the right thing, those who don’t should be shunned.

It is terribly sad that in both Israel and the United States, COVID-19 cases have hit especially hard in Orthodox areas. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that city schools in Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods experiencing coronavirus outbreaks will again be closed starting Tuesday — and many of these areas are in predominantly Orthodox Jewish communities including Borough Park, Midwood, and Kew Gardens.

Cuomo said, “I would not send my child to a school in a hot-spot cluster. … I am not going to recommend or allow any New York City family to send their child to a school that I wouldn’t send my child.”

While Mayor Bill De Blasio and Governor Cuomo are a complete disaster, and have terribly mismanaged many issues, on this, we can understand their position based on the simple facts. While the vast majority of people wear masks, those who don’t put all of us in danger. To not submit to contact tracing or attempt to pray indoors in large groups — the small amount of people who do this are wrong and should be shunned.

The Orthodox community should ensure everyone wears masks and social distances. Leaders should continue to speak out on the right side of this issue. This is not a right-wing vs. left-wing issue — it’s a right and wrong issue. All sane people should wear masks and social distance — whether they wear a kippah or shtreimel.

Ronn Torossian is a public relations executive.

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