New York City

Orthodox Jews Say They're Being Targeted by New NYC Lockdowns

The newest lockdown, which explicitly targets religious gatherings, seems likely to further skepticism of public health directives.


A group of Orthodox Jewish men gathered Tuesday evening in Brooklyn, burning masks to protest the newest iteration of New York's pandemic lockdown. Their anger is reasonable, because the newest lockdown—which disproportionately affects the city's Jewish community and explicitly targets religious gatherings—is not. It is deeply stupid and unfair, exactly the sort of easily avoidable government overreach that makes even well-intended people doing their best to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 understandably skeptical of public health directives.

At issue is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's "Cluster Action Initiative," implemented at the request of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and announced several hours before the fire. The program identifies infection clusters—areas with positive test rates above 3 percent for seven consecutive days—and imposes a graduated system of restrictions until the rate drops.

In the strictest rule set, the "red zone," schools along with businesses deemed nonessential are closed. In-person dining is banned. Houses of worship are limited to gatherings of 25 percent capacity or 10 people, whichever is smaller, with $15,000 fines for violations. In fact, as Cuomo said Tuesday in a line sure to appear in forthcoming First Amendment litigation, religious gatherings are the main target: "The new rules are most impactful on houses of worship," he declared. "This virus is not coming from nonessential business." (Then why, one wonders, are those businesses required to close?)

From there Cuomo pivoted to claiming the support of New York City's Orthodox Jewish leaders, because in some of these neighborhoods, "houses of worship" basically means synagogues, and "private schools" means Hebrew schools and yeshivas. The lockdown arrived in the middle of Sukkot, a week-long holiday celebrated, as holidays generally are, with gatherings—including gatherings where a minimum of 11 people are needed to guarantee a required quorum.

Cuomo, who is not himself Jewish, tried to buttress his argument by citing Jewish teaching. "The Torah speaks about how certain religious obligations can be excused if you are going to save a life….That's what this is," he said. "I felt very good about my conversation with the Orthodox community."

Suffice it to say the Orthodox community does not feel equally good. A group of rabbis said their conversation with the governor was "a one-way monologue" in which Cuomo never mentioned his strict assembly rule. A statement from four Jewish city council members slammed the "draconian" plan as "a scientifically and constitutionally questionable shutdown" enacted after a "duplicitous bait-and-switch." Per their account, the governor obtained community buy-in by promising synagogues could operate at 50 percent capacity with no numerical cap. For a synagogue large enough to seat hundreds or thousands, that's a guideline very far from the 10-person limit ultimately mandated. (And if 25 percent capacity is safe in a small building, it's surely safe in a large building too.)

On its surface, the 3 percent positive rate is a religiously neutral condition. The reason Jewish communities are more likely to be affected, Cuomo and de Blasio can argue, is simply that they have a higher transmission rate, due to lax mask use and social distancing habits. That may be true, but neither the math nor the politics of this situation is that simple.

New York City's positive rate peaked at nearly 70 percent in early April, at which point fewer than 8,000 people were tested per day. Now the city's daily testing average is over 30,000, and the city-wide positive rate is under 2 percent, as it has been for months, though the city has moved into the fourth phase of its reopening plan (which allows religious gatherings at 50 percent capacity outside cluster neighborhoods). The clusters have positive rates between 3 and 7 percent. That's worse than the rest of the city, but still dramatically better than the spring surge, when lockdown was implemented to "flatten the curve" and prevent hospital overload. The city's COVID-19 hospitalizations hit 12,000 in the spring; now the total is under 400, clusters included. There is no comparable overload risk.

Moreover, it's not as if these neighborhoods are impermeably isolated from the rest of the city. Residents work, shop, study, and worship outside lockdown boundaries. "Nonessential" stores just past the edge of the red zones will do a lively (perhaps crowded!) business while their competitors a few blocks away are compelled to close.

But education and worship can't work around Cuomo's edict so easily. And these rules come after months of discord. There was de Blasio's unfortunate April tweet singling out "the Jewish community" for holding large gatherings, and his dismissal of a question from a reporter for an ultra-Orthodox outlet about why large protests were permitted while small religious gatherings weren't. Just this Monday, Cuomo's office used a 14-year-old photo of a rabbi's packed funeral to illustrate the governor's remarks about COVID-19. Even before the cluster plan, the "community [felt] they're being singled out and there's some element of anti-Semitism," Jewish Voice publisher David Ben Hooren said Monday. "Tensions are running high."

Those tensions are bad for public health. They may make people less likely to get tested if they have relatively mild symptoms. The Forward reports that this may already be happening: Much as the drug war deters people from seeking addiction treatment for fear of legal consequences, people are scared their positive test results will give the government a reason to shut down their schools and houses of worship.

A policy that amounts to punishing positive tests will produce fewer positives, but not necessarily fewer infections. It might well make the pandemic worse, as untested, infected people go about their normal business and public anger over unreasonable restrictions grows into public rejection of practices, such as mask use, that actually help. That face mask fire may be a portent of unintended consequences to come.

NEXT: Harris Leans Into Prosecutor Past at Vice Presidential Debate

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  1. Not only does this fucking Nazi have the gall to explicitly target the Jewish community, he then has the balls to lecture them about how this is actually what the Torah wants them to do.

    We’re overdue for a good smiting, I hope it happens publicly.

    1. He’s no Mussolini, but not for want of trying.

      1. There can only be one American Mussolini.

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    2. He’s not targeting the “Jewish” community. He’s targeting the Orthodox in NYC and Rockland county who don’t seem to give a rats ass about anyone but themselves.

      1. Ah yes, that Constitutional obligation to give a rat’s ass about anyone that those damn Jews won’t abide by. That’s why the Democrats are punishing them.

      2. Well how am I supposed to know that?

        Maybe he can get the ones he doesn’t like to wear a gold star or something. Make it easier to tell the good Jews from the bad ones.

      3. That Jewish community that already spends 16 hours a day cheek to jowl but are not permitted to be near each other a few hours?

      4. shouldn’t be targeting anyone. don’t be stupid.

      5. This is the thing. For at least a generation, the primary animus against orthodox Jewry has come from other Jews with this complaint about their not giving a rat’s ass about reform and conservative Jews — which is partly true. There are probably lots of Jews cheering on Cuomo’s getting back at the orthodox.

        1. In fact practically the only animus against orthodox Jews in the northeast USA has been coming from blacks and other Jews.

          1. And apparently governors at the mayor’s behest.

          2. No, just blacks. The “Jews” who complain about the Orthodox are Jews only by descent, not belief. They’re so far distanced from their history, that the idea of putting culture into belief and practice is alien to them.

        2. Reform are about as Jewish as the Sunday Assembly movement are Christian.

      6. “He’s not targeting the “Jewish” community. He’s targeting the Orthodox in NYC and Rockland county who don’t seem to give a rats ass about anyone but themselves.”

        Hint: Your health is YOUR responsibility; crawl in a hole and stay there if your mommy said you might catch something.
        IOWs, fuck off, slaver.

        1. Orthodox Jews are much more likely to vote Republican than Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist MotTs are. And ethnically Jewish secular folks? Oy gevalt!

          Not Jewish myself, but I played shabbes goy as a kid from time to time, and worked for years for a non-religious Jew’s family business. What he thought of the “black hats!” It was a “shanda fur die goyim!”

      7. Fuck off, Adolf.


    3. Bill de Blasio’s was born as Warren Wilhelm, Jr.

      The mystery of why he changed his name seems to be clearing up.

    4. I hope that the COVID-19 can be killed as soon as possible.

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  2. Begin countdown until BLM protesters are simply exercising their free speech rights by piling masks under whatever structure they’re trying to burn down before lighting them…

    1. “Where they burn masks, they will, in the end, burn human beings too.” or something like that

    2. They don’t need to. BLM protests are always peaceful, unlike those pesky Jews.

      1. “mostly” peaceful, but intensifying

  3. The Democrats are the real Anti-Semites, that’s a well known fact for everyone with half a brain.

    I feel sad for my Jewish brothers and sisters who are still in the mistaken belief that the GOP is racists and the Dems are their protectors. They’re just like the non-Zionist and anti-Zionist Jewry of Europe in the 30’s… history had proven who was in the wrong then, and it wasn’t the Zionists, I can tell you that…

    1. Unfortunately, those secular Jews that are propping up Democrats aren’t being targeted yet. Those orthodox Jews that are being targeted, I really don’t know what they’re still doing in New York.

      1. Good welfare benies.

    2. It’s not the Democrats per se; it’s the blacks and reform Jews against the orthodox Jews.

      1. All blacks or Democrat blacks?
        All reform Jews or Democrat reform Jews?
        per se.

        1. The generalizaton works either way. You won’t alter the tendencies much by cutting the correlation more finely that way.

          1. Democrat is the common denominator. I wonder if anti-semitism might be a broader Democrat trait?

            1. wonder if?

      2. Roberta, it’s blacks and whites, not Jews.

        The “Jews” who complain about the Orthodox are Jews only by descent, not belief. They’re so far distanced from their history, that the idea of putting culture into belief and practice is alien to them.

        They’re white.

        So it’s blacks and whites.

  4. Really, at this point, I think the best compromise for Cuomo and the Jewish community would be some sort of place where the people who’s beliefs could cause them to catch and spread COVID could be concentrated. Like a camp or something.

    1. That’s probably next. A Quarantation camp. Cuomo is already designating ghettos and locking down their inhabitants.

      1. If we go to war with New York to prevent the extermination of the Jews, we can rightfully claim that America is the only nation to have defeated the Nazis twice, right?

        1. Depends. Will it just be us or will we let the Brits join in for the ride?

          1. Which side would the Brits be on this time?

            1. “Which side would the Brits be on this time?”

              Ha, you make joke.

          2. Canadians, for sure; flanking moves and all that.

      2. Some sort of “final solution “, you say?

    2. I’m all for locking up the far left.

  5. It always starts with the Jews; it never ends there.

    Governor Putz should resign, or be impeached by the NY legislature. The NY state constitution guarantees free exercise.

    1. You realize most Jews in NY state are not Orthodox, right?

      1. This statement confuses me. Is there a secret non-Orthodox exemption to the 1A or NY State Constitution?

        Or are you asserting that it’s really a faction issue; the non-Orthodox Jews trying to crack down on the Orthodoxy?

        1. He’s saying that Cuomo isn’t targeting the ‘good’ ones. Cuomo is fine with those Jews for now.

          1. I’m still not clear on how that clarifies it. The 1A says “peaceable assembly” and “religion”, not “non-infectious assembly of some sects of some religions”.

            I guess some people grok the whole notion of when the 1A does/doesn’t allow for persecution of Jews better than I do.

        2. He’s saying that since it’s only a small minority of the Jewish population, and a minority he personally doesn’t care for as seen up thread, that this is A OK.

          I’d say he’s a Nazi but I don’t think he’s actually got the balls to take that kind of stand.

          1. I see. Any thoughts that there might be some handle-hijacking going on as well? Seems like somebody used to post under the name ‘Stilgar’ who was significantly less… stupid.

            1. Not sure. Everyone has a bad take from time to time, usually they aren’t this disgusting though.

            2. Maybe it’s echospinner?
              Would explain some things…

          2. Well he did provide the ultimate solution for the nursing home residents of his state.

      2. You realize the Bill of Rights is designed to protect minorities?

      3. And your point is what, stilgar? Do you actually have one?

  6. JLM? Doesn’t have the same ring to it…

    1. See Trump/Clinton. You don’t have to believe Jews’ lives matter. Fighting the people oppressing the Jews with an iron fist sells itself.

  7. To be fair, the Jews are always whining and complaining about something, you know how those people are.

    1. Thanks, that gave me a laugh.

    2. And we just have too damned many opinions!

      1. Dammit, drop those opinions right now!

        1. But if we drop the extra opinions, we’ll feel guilty! What is a good Jew to do!? 🙂

          1. You have to turn in the bad jews…

            1. Ugh! Imagine the guilt!

              1. You guys never heard “Two Jews, three opinions?”

              2. That’s “gelt”, dammit!

    3. Wait, what?
      Karen is a Jewish name?

      1. Karen Friedman Hill on line 3 …

      2. No, the origin is Germanic, meaning ‘hard worker’.

  8. “Orthodox Jews Say They’re Being Targeted by New NYC Lockdowns”

    Why? Just because Cuomo targeted them explicitly by name?

    1. “That’s not true”

      – J, Biden

      (no citations necessary for J. Biden)

      1. Come on, man!

      2. Jill Biden? 🙂

  9. “Orthodox Jews Say They’re Being Targeted by New NYC Lockdowns”


    1. To be fair it’s mostly Reform Jews doing that, as they switched out Elohim for the DNC long ago. That’s why they hate the Orthodox who have embarrassingly stuck with God.

      1. They had to get revenge for Harvey somehow

      2. Orthodox who have embarrassingly stuck with God.

        And Trump… if I understand the numbers out of Brooklyn.

      3. Aren’t Reform Jews basically the Unitarian Universalists of the American Jewish population? The “spiritual but not religious” types?

        1. Not even.

          Reform Jews are the secular humanists with a historical link to Judaism. They don’t obey any religious tradition because they don’t accept that the lineage of bible interpretation and liturgy has any divine attributes.

          They have no faith that God actually exists and gave them blueprints for living.

          They’re the woke corporate logo with a rainbow printed on a banner. Empty platitudes.

          Their observances are virtue signaling, not based on any faith. When you see them in a prayer, it comes from a desire to belong, not a sense that it has meaning beyond being a social activity.

          The Orthodox uniformly believe the first part of the Bible was given directly by God, with subsequent parts inspired or dictated by God. They obey the traditional religious rules because it comes from that level of divinity. Their traditions are based on hereditary and rabbinical interpretations made with that reverence for divinity.

          There are varieties and sects of Orthodox Jews, but they’re united in accepting “God’s word as written.”

          Other Jewish groups, Reconstructionists, Conservative, Egalitarian, and others, are a mix of the above. They vary in what they accept as inspired by God, but don’t believe it’s given by God.

          They’re the Messianics, but they’re actually a Christian group posing as Jewish to proselytize.

          Finally, it’s worth mentioning that a majority of “secular Jews” in Israel and many in the US are lapsed Orthodox. So they believe or are descended from Orthodox, they’re just too assimilated with secularism to follow up with observances.

          The Reform represent a minority of Jews. And because they have rejected divinity complexity, they’re not really Jews at all.

          That’s why I said, not even.

          1. Typo, fixed here:

            ^There are also^ the Messianics, but they’re actually a Christian group posing as Jewish to proselytize.

  10. Why do they keep voting for the same Democrat political machine?

    I feel terrible for women who are beaten by their spouses, and I feel bad for the ones who keep bailing their abusive husbands out of jail just get beat up over and over again, too. At some point, they need to understand that things will never improve so long as they keep taking him back again. He will never stop beating you so long as there are no negative consequences.

    It isn’t just Orthodox Jews either. This is the same reason the city council approves union contracts that protect the police from the negative consequences of violating people’s rights, too.

    The Democrat party machine is confident that it can treat these and other groups like shit because they don’t fear any negative consequences. The way to make politicians suffer negative consequences for their misbehavior is to vote them out of office. Yes, that may necessitate voting for a Republican or Republicans.

    1. The Orthodox do not vote Democrat. It is the secular Jews who do that. Leftism is for secular Jews today what the Golden Calf was for the Hebrews in the desert.

      1. True in general, but I think it’s different in NYC because only Democrats can win there. Which again brings me back to my question of why orthodox Jews are still living in NYC.

        1. Which again brings me back to my question of why orthodox Jews are still living in NYC.

          Yeah! Go back to Israel already! /sarc

      2. Thank you John. Jews everywhere appreciate your judgement and comments on our faith, identity, and political choices.

        1. John’s right this time.

          Jews keep voting for these Democrat antisemites.

          The question is why. The reason is that they had similar social goal 80 years ago and they’re people who are loyal. For a long time that paid off. Now it doesn’t.

          They need to vote out the Democrats.

  11. 1. It takes 10 men to make a minyan, not 11.
    2. The ultra-Orthodox do not follow corona health guidelines. I live about 4 hours from NYC, and have Chabad friends, and I see them having friends and family at their house from NYC all the time, no masks, no distancing. I know they do the same thing in NYC. They just don’t care, and thus they must be restricted. I have zero doubt that they packed 770 for the holidays.

    1. Those dirty Jews are spreading the pestilence. You tell them Adolph.

      1. wanted to believe that was parody.

        1. I don’t think it is. This is what the average Democrat actually think.

          1. 115 million people “live about 4 hours from NYC” this guy’s some authority?

          2. MollyG has trolled here before, apparently with the usual goal of eliciting reactions. It must be a fetish with these people.


        2. Molly has a reputation which makes parody unlikely.

        3. Today’s parody = tomorrow’s government edict.

        4. “wanted to believe that was parody.”

          Not coming from MG! Not on your life; pure stupid and nothing but.

    2. Or maybe, just maybe, you are selectively biased. Half my block is orthodox jews and they spent the last 6 months locked in their houses.

    3. But as insular as they are, do they really pose much of an infection risk to the rest of the world?

    4. BLM protesters have spent the last four months crowding on streets and in stores. Should New York also be targeting them for extra lockdowns to counteract their lack of social distancing?

      1. and yet they wonder why people of color have a higher incidence of infection, they always want to blame it on racism instead of their rioting

    5. ” The ultra-Orthodox do not follow corona health guidelines. I live about 4 hours from NYC, and have Chabad friends, and I see them having friends and family at their house from NYC all the time, no masks, no distancing. I know they do the same thing in NYC. ”

      Thus banning a religious gathering accomplishes nothing.

    6. So they behave like normal people. Which is exactly what I have been doing too. And what everyone should be doing at this point. In march it may have made sense to alter behavior in NYC. Now, it’s ridiculous. Based on an entirely predictable small uptick in positive tests as we come into cold and flu season.

    7. Why do so many think this is parody? It is not complicated; if you don’t follow the rules and your community has outbreaks, then you get shut down. They had the same issue with measles a year or so ago. Chabad are spiritual, kind, generous, and joyous people, but are very weak with complying with pubic health guidelines.

      1. “if you don’t follow the rules and your community has outbreaks, then you get shut down.”

        I know it’s hard to tell from the headlines, but did you know that Reason is an ostensibly libertarian site?

      2. >>if you don’t follow the rules
        the rules?

        >>your community has outbreaks
        my community?

        >>then you get shut down
        nobody believes you have it in you to shut down anything

        >>are very weak with complying with pubic health guidelines.
        public health?

        >>Why do so many think this is parody?
        nobody but me thought you were parody

      3. This is not Chabad molly.

        There is a principle in Judaism. Pikuach Nefesh. You know it. To save a life and health is primary over other concerns.

        Coumo has gone too far on this and other issues.

      4. “Why do so many think this is parody?…”

        Because if it isn’t, it’s stupidity which is hard to comprehend.

    8. “They just don’t care, and thus they must be restricted”

      You will obey the new normal, comrade!

    9. Moron, They do care.

      When you see them without masks, it’s because that’s what their parents and leaders are telling them.

      Community and cohesiveness is more important to them than the abstract chance that they might come down with the sniffles. They have the courage of their convictions and commitment to family and neighborhood.

      Something you haters won’t ever understand.

  12. “higher transmission rate” of tyranny.

  13. Canary meet coal mine.

  14. so what science was used to determine that 3% was the number to force people into their gulags. why not 5% or 1% since that would get you closer to the stated goal of zero? which is unachievable

    1. And why use the positive test rate at all. Deaths per population or ICU admissions would be a much better way to judge whether something serious is going on. Positive tests don’t necessarily mean that anyone is sick. This virus is endemic at this point. If you look for it, you will find it.

      1. IF they did that, they wouldn’t have an excuse to lock everyone in their homes.

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  16. Proud, open, blatant anti-semitism.


  17. Day 209 of 15 to flatten the curve.

    Day 92 of a statewide 30 day mask mandate.

    1. Day 209 of 15 to flatten the curve.

      Grades, fenders, hips… I don’t care which curve, just flatten it!

  18. Pretty funny how Bonnie’s headline reads “Orthodox Jews SAY they are being targeted” instead of ” Orthodox Jews ARE being targeted”.
    Just another little mask slip by the editors here.
    Orthodox Jews arent the only ones saying it, Cuomo and Deblasio have said it. Plainly.

    ENB would never write a headline that said ” Consenting Adult Sex Workers SAY they are being targeted by anti-Trafficking raids”

    1. That is a good point. Since it involves people reason doesn’t like exercising a freedom, religious liberty, reason doesn’t like it gets reported as an allegation that reason admits would be kind of bad if it is true.

      They really are pathetic

  19. The reason Jewish communities are more likely to be affected, Cuomo and de Blasio can argue, is simply that Orthodox Jews tend to vote Republican. they have a higher transmission rate, due to lax mask use and social distancing habits.

  20. Fun Fact(s):

    Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is one of the oldest and largest teaching hospitals in the United States. It is located in East Harlem in the New York City borough of Manhattan, on the eastern border of Central Park stretching along Madison and Fifth Avenues, between East 98th Street and East 103rd Street. The entire Mount Sinai health system has over 7,400 physicians, as well as 3,815 beds, and delivers over 16,000 babies a year. In 2019–20, the hospital was ranked 14th among the nearly 5,000 hospitals in the US by the U.S. News & World Report.

    At the time of the founding of the hospital in 1852, other hospitals in New York City discriminated against Jewish people both by not hiring them, and by prohibiting them from being treated in the hospitals’ wards. Orthodox Jewish philanthropist Sampson Simson (1780–1857) founded the hospital to address the needs of New York City’s rapidly growing Jewish immigrant community. It was the second Jewish hospital in the United States, after the Jewish Hospital, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, which was established in 1847.

    Fuck Cuomo with a rusty fireplace poker and a red hot chainsaw at the same time.

  21. Open wider, clingers.

    The reckoning has begun.

    Superstitious, anti-social, lethally reckless slack-jaws hardest hit . . . at least at first.


        1. Only most of them. Every Nazi had his favorite ‘good’ Jew.

          1. What Judenfraulein would drop her panties and spread her thighs and lady lips for him?

  22. Without telling me who the Orthodox Jews are going to be voting for, it’s impossible for me to decide who is in the right here!

    If they’re going to vote for Biden then screw them, obey the stupid rules your team put in place. If they’re going to vote for Trump, then this is just another example of DeBlasio and the Democrats stealing the votes from Trump!

  23. You know who else…aww, screw it.

  24. “The Torah speaks about how certain religious obligations can be excused if you are going to save a life” But I think it is only if you are specifically saving a life, not just generally possibly saving someone’s life maybe.

    1. The interpretation is very broad. It includes the potential to save a life.

      I am no expert in Halacha but have read about these matters. Because there is no way to determine if an intervention will be successful it is not only permitted but obligatory to attempt it.

      For example if you are an orthodox doctor and you are called in to perform a procedure on Shabbat or major holiday you go. The Shulchan Aruch a major source says that if you even stop to ask a question you are “one who spills blood”.

    2. They gave it six months. No one is getting sick or dying anymore IN THOSE NEIGHBORHOODS. The politicians are lying.

      They did the masks and isolation for six months, watching as riots and protests are allowed, while these people obeyed the rules like good citizens. At some point you have to realize the politicians are lying and abusive.

      At some point you realize the flood of death and sickness has stopped. And you go out and begin to enjoy life again.

  25. Most Jews in this country (from what I can tell) are white libs with some Jewish bloodline, which technically qualifies them as Jews even if they’re lily white, never attend synagogues and frequent BBQ rib places.

    Hollywood is supposed to be dominated by Jews, but you hardly see any references to Judaism in popular culture. At this time of year Hannukah gets beaten out by Day of the Death motifs at retail and movies.

    I see Latinos sans mask at parks all the time. It’s not uncommon to see them eat dinner as a large group on their front yard. They’re the no.1 covid victim in CA. But you’ll NEVER see Newsom call them out by their ethnicity or even faith. One party rule has some ugly consequences.

    1. Funny how Biden and Harris don’t even pretend to care about the latinos and hispanics. The LP ignores them. Only the Trump Pence team makes the effort at outreach.

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  28. Instead of complaining politically, how come fundamentalist religious types don’t just sit back and let God send lightning bolts, locusts or plague onto the non-believers while faithful just sit back and watch.

    1. False projection. Judaism (along with other religions, including “fundamentalists”) does not teach its adherents to do nothing as you claim. Moses is a good example of this; despite receiving God’s help and guidance, he put in plenty of his own effort in making the Exodus come to pass.

      I suspect you put up your straw man argument deliberately. Knock it off.

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