A funeral in Williamsburg on Tuesday. (Photo via Reuven Blau)

A funeral for an Orthodox rabbi on the streets of Williamsburg Tuesday evening resulted in approximately 2,000 mourners standing side-by-side despite social distancing guidelines in New York that restrict gatherings of more than 10 people during the current pandemic.

The NYPD worked to disperse crowds at the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Rutledge Street on Tuesday night handing out a total of 12 summonses as Mayor de Blasio himself arrived on scene. Police had originally “coordinated and approved” the procession, Gothamist reports.

Footage of the funeral for Rabbi Chaim Mertz posted to social media shows a packed Bedford Avenue with mourners stretching an entire block.


“We have lost so many these last two months + I understand the instinct to gather to mourn. But large gatherings will only lead to more deaths + more families in mourning,” Mayor de Blasio tweeted. “We will not allow this.”

Mayor de Blasio also received criticism for cracking down on Tuesday’s funeral gathering while the city’s parks, especially Williamsburg parks continue to host crowds of people.

On Wednesday, De Blasio called his stance on the funeral an act of ‘tough love,’ adding that it was the largest gathering of people in NYC since the start of the coronavirus crisis that he is aware of.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has increased fines in New York to up to $1,000 for people not adhering to social distancing.

A party with 60 people at a barbershop in Canarsie was also broken up just one week ago, and moving forward, Mayor de Blasio says that he has “instructed the NYPD to have one standard for this whole city: zero tolerance,” including handing out more fines and making arrests if needed.

Brooklyn’s Orthodox community is especially impacted by the on-going pandemic, with an estimated more than 700 Hasidic Jewish people having died from the virus.


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