POLICE shut down an Orthodox Jewish school on Monday night after they discovered 70 kids inside classrooms — defying coronavirus lockdown orders.
The children were found inside the Nitra Yeshiva in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
It’s unclear how many children were actually inside the school, as one report claims “more than 100 were found,” but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said “as many as 70 children” were discovered by police.
“Earlier today the NYPD shut down a Yeshiva conducting classes,” he tweeted on Monday night.
“I can’t stress how dangerous this is for our young people. We’re issuing a Cease and Desist Order and will make sure we keep our communities and our kids safe.”
According to The New York Times, NYPD officers arrived at the scene around noon after a neighbor reported seeing the children playing on the roof of the building.
A police spokesperson said officers found around 60 kids — mostly teenagers — in the school and quickly sent them all home.
Neighbor Joe Livington told the Times: “It was definitely a regular day for them, like business as usual.”
Other neighbors said it appeared to be the first time in weeks that students showed up at the yeshiva publicly.
Avrohom Weinstock, associate director of education at the Agudath Israel of America, said there were “no excuses” for the yeshiva to violate stay-at-home restrictions amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Weinstock said the school’s administrator told the organization “no formal classes were held” at the school in Brooklyn, and added that “individual students were studying together on their own accord.”
He said the administration said “masks and extreme social distancing [were] in place.”
A police spokesperson said no summonses were issued on Monday.
The school closure is the latest incident between law enforcement in NYC — the epicenter of the United States' coronavirus outbreak — and some members of the Hasidic Jewish community.
Jews have been congregating in Brooklyn to mourn the deaths of loved ones lost to coronavirus — despite social distancing restrictions.
De Blasio tweeted earlier this month that large gatherings in the Hasidic Jewish community amid the coronavirus outbreak are “absolutely unacceptable.”
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed.”
“I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period,” de Blasio said.
Of another large, tightly packed Hasidic Jewish funeral in Williamsburg, de Blasio said: “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.”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said he was recommending that the group formally censure de Blasio for his remarks.
“I agree with the Mayor that social distancing is vitally important — and last night’s gathering was not appropriate,” Lauder said in a statement.
“But to blame the entire Jewish community is the type of stereotyping that is dangerous and unacceptable at any time, and particularly pernicious while the world is gripped in fear and the worst among us are looking for scapegoats.”
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