Emails from Jewish Residents in New York City's Redlined Neighborhoods

"Who could possibly fathom that this would be America in 2020?"

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Last week I blogged about New York Governor Cuomo's pandemic order in New York (See here, here, and here). He placed redlines around Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, and imposed stringent restrictions on prayer and assembly. I will much more to have say about that order in due course. Here, I would like to include a sampling of emails I've received in the last week from members of those communities. I think the messages speak for themselves.

Thank you for your honest article—it shows an awareness and the strength to stand up for what is right, even when it isn't the popular or accepted thing to do. I'm sorry if some Jewish people felt the need to tell you that you're wrong or outspoken—unfortunately and it is very frightening to see, people are blind to what should be obvious and apparent. If they were able to open their eyes to the truth, perhaps we would be more able to get people together to stand up for our rights. I feel if more people would have the courage and strength the way you did in writing this article, we would not be in the position we are in now, since there is strength in numbers and even more so when we are willing to be outspoken about the truth. Thank you again for your honesty and for your courage.
I wish you only well,

I live in Brooklyn. In a neatly carved out zone so that people who don't look Orthodox can go to hair salons and restaurants around the corner from Orthodox Jews at the same time the sheriff showed up to check empty school buildings for children. So it is especially frustrating when this rhetoric is permitted. While I don't have much familiarity with constitutional law, I do think a house of worship has at least as much protection as an essential business even during a pandemic. Particularly when the same govt officials permitted tens of thousands of ppl to gather in protests that were not peaceful. I am attaching a sign that NYC workers put in the elevator of a local office building. It specifically says 'synagogue.'  They should at least pretend they aren't targeting the Jews and and write 'house of worship'.

Thanks for your well written informative article. Crazy how history repeats itself, and how predictable we are as a human race. It's so disturbing and incomprehensible to me how many influential Jews are just sitting back and watching this happen. Literally allowing it to happen. Silence is definitely not the answer these days. We went from 0 to self destruct in mere months. Who could possibly fathom that this would be America in 2020?! Guess we got too comfortable and cozy thinking this was IT, the ultimate life, and most people left G-d out of the picture… Like I said; we're so predictable. Anyway, just wanted to thank you, for being a voice. For speaking up. I'm an orthodox Jewish woman from Brooklyn, and don't have a public social platform, but definitely have lots to say and lots to offer from a real perspective.

Thank you for your accurate portrayal of the situation occurring in New York City today and its chilling parallels to events from the past. We need more voices in the media like yours. Keep up the good work! Signed, An Orthodox Jew in New York City's Red Zone

Your post has been circulating around in a few of my chats and I wanted to commend you on hitting the nail on the head. Your perspective is refreshing given the difficult times which the Orthodox Jews are enduring, for no good reason. I look forward to reading your insight on this matter as it develops. An Orthodox Attorney.

 

Ty for your recent article explaining Governor Cuomo.  Living in NY for Jewish people is very scary at this time. The way things are unfolding is very unsettling.  I have been living in NY my whole life and have never experienced what we experiencing today. Its really as if we are no more welcomed here as the jews were no more welcomed in Germany and Russia. It's a sad sad reality. Europe has been experiencing this for a whole and now that it hit my home town it makes it all more scary. My co- workers and myself were all discussing our next move to leave NY. We're just deciding where to go.  The history is facts and the negative comments just shows how people don't want to believe facts. The negative comments just further underscores the importance of your article. I appreciate your writing.  Keep the facts coming despite the negativity. people would prefer to think that everything is ok and this will pass and it's not a wake up call to look at history and see how it's repeating itself and we should learn from our history. We are not safe any more and we can't just sit and do nothing.  It's scary times.

 

Hi, just wanted to say thank you for saying what most Jews are thinking but don't necessarily have the platform to speak up. I live in Midwood, 11210, on my side of Nostrand Avenue all the Jewish owned stores are shuttered, while just a few blocks away all the stores on the other side of Flatbush Avenue,  still in the same zip code are all open. Shoe stores, electronics,  hair salons, even outdoor dining is being allowed. It's so obvious that Jews are being targeted and blamed for the current rise in Covid cases which is totally ridiculous. Its frustrating to have to follow our moronic leaders like little mice in a line while others are free to come and go and earn a living.  What's next? Do I have to pin a yellow star to my shirt with my zip code on it? If it doesn't stop now it'll be too far gone to repair and I'd hate to leave my kids a world like that. We really need to assert ourselves before it's too late. It's also beyond frustrating to see my kids on their devices doing "school" and falling further and further behind because our schools are all closed. There's so much more to say and so little time but thank you for letting me vent and thank you for speaking up for all of us who can't.

 

I really appreciated your article. I live in one of the "red zones" in Brooklyn and as a child of Holocaust survivors I'm starting to understand the baseless hatred that my parents faced.  I never felt the fear of what's to come as I do now. I'm a born and bred New Yorker who thought I would never leave NY,  the city that I adored! However the Governor and Mayor have made this city intolerable. When I had to buy my young children pepper spray last fall because they were afraid to walk the 3 blocks from their school to our home, neither of them condemned the attacks which were done predominantly by black people. When there were fireworks going off all hours of the night with no end in sight they wouldn't do anything. Now the streets are teeming with sheriffs, Dept of Bldg's employees looking to make our lives miserable. My husbands entire office building in Borough Park was targeted today. Inspectors were knocking aggressively on every business door to try to gain entrance to see if there was proper social distancing going on. He said he felt like he was in communist Russia. I guess the worst part for me is the silence all around. Why is nobody speaking up for us? This is what my father described about how his city watched the Jews being rounded up and taken away and no one said a word. I must pick up and leave this city before it's too late. Thanks again, very well written!

Thank you for your very informative article. I am a religious Jew living in the "red zone". It's frightening what is going on here! The inspectors keep coming to our shuls and schools to make sure we are following the rules! Only a few weeks ago, there was rioting and looting going on all over the city, and did Cuomo or Deblasio single out those people?? The red zone literally ends 3 blocks away in a predominantly black neighborhood, and those stores are all open. We are truly being penalized and discriminated against, and would love to hear what are constitutional rights are in order to rectify what is going on here. Thanks for your support. Shouldn't Jews lives matter too?

 

As an orthodox Jewish woman living in a NYC "red zone" neighborhood, I wanted to thank you for your well written piece.  It accurately conveys what many of us feel and are afraid of. The current climate in NY leaves me feeling,  confused and betrayed and wondering if me and my family have a future in this city and state.  We see ourselves as orthodox, Hasidic, modern orthodox, zionist , anti zionist,  non affiliated, reform and conservative yet the world will always see us all as the same, simply Jews.   I think many Jews are left with a sense of dejavú .  I hope and pray history doesn't repeat itself the way it has over our long and painful past. Thank you again,

 

I am a practicing attorney and an Orthodox Jew living in New York City in a 'red zone.' I am saddened by the current state of affairs where I am judged by my own governor on the actions of some because of my religion.  I read your article on Cuomo's anti-Semitic rhetoric. I found it to be directly on point.

 

​​​​​Thank you for your clear and thorough article. I have started sharing it with people that I know who choose to remain oblivious.

 

Hi! I just wanted to show my support and let you know that I really enjoyed reading your article. A friend posted the link on her status and I read it with interest. I liked it so much, I copied her and put it on my status, as well. I don't like getting involved in politics and I don't even like 'talking' politics, but when it impacts my life it's a whole different story. Anyway, thank you for having the courage to say it like it is. May you have much success! All the best!

 

I just read your article about "Understanding Governor Cuomo's Hositlity towards Jews." I agree with your sentiments. I feel as if I have been put into a ghetto. I feel that Cuomo is scapegoating us because he cannot admit to his ineptitude. I see many people outside with and without masks, they are Jews on non Jews among both groups. My husband and I love living in our area on NYC but we are increasingly fearful and speak about leaving due to increased hostility towards our community. My husband's grandmother, who survived Auschwitz, tells us that this is reminiscent of what happened in Europe. This is a very frightening time we live in. I hope that our voices are loud enough so that the phrase that was a mantra  in my childhood stands true.  "Never Again."
A fellow concerned Jew,

 

As a resident in one of the New York "red zones" I thank you for your outspokenness. Personally, my family prayed outdoors over the High Holidays and wear masks when shopping indoors. The pointing of fingers by people outside and inside our community is alarming.

Your history lesson on antisemitism reminded me of my own family history. I dabble in genealogy as a hobby. Joszef Scharf of the Tiszaeszlar Blood Libel was my fourth great uncle (I'm a descendant of his sister Juliana Scharf Elbogen). Family lore has it that my second great grandparents
courageously harbored their Scharf cousins during that tumultuous time when both Jews and non-Jews were furious at the family.

I've always refrained from posting anything that could be construed as political on social media. My hesitancy can be traced to working on Wall Street for many years where all my communication was subject to compliance review. However, staying silent is no longer an option. Once again, thank you for giving voice to what we all have been feeling.

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  1. Professor Blackman…The messages you received do speak for themselves. That this kind of behavior by government can persist and be tolerated in 2020 America is simply….incredible.

    1. “That this kind of behavior by government can persist and be tolerated in 2020 America is simply….incredible.”

      Depends on whether minorities are targeted because of animus towards the minority or for some other reason. “This kind of behavior by government” includes taking notice of people’s actions. Are they targeting people wearing yarmulkes, or are they targeting people not wearing masks?

      1. Ain’t it great when you can persecute minorities for breaking “orders” that the authorities break easily themselves, then defend breaking?

        https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/cuomo-defends-not-wearing-a-mask-at-indoor-presser/2653045/

        1. And again… Social distancing? Masks? Those are for “Other” people (Like orthodox Jews). Not for Cuomo.

          https://nypost.com/2020/07/27/video-shows-mask-less-cuomo-hugging-mayor-of-savannah-ga/

          1. I wonder if they actually realize what they are saying…

        2. speaking of selective targeting, whining about one guy who doesn’t wear a mask while ignoring the elephant party in the room…

          1. When the one guy is the one making the executive order who, for “whatever” reason isn’t “targeted” and thrown in jail….Well….

            1. Gee why don’t more executives order that they be thrown in jail? What a mystery that is.

      1. Bustard,

        I read your cite, It seems that you did not.

            1. That’s your excuse for not answering the argument?

  2. But I thought the Democrats in NY were so tolerant and diverse in 2020.

    Whats even worse is that the courts have been complicit in this. This smacks of the mistakes made in Korematsu

    1. What does tolerance and diversity have to do with responding to a pandemic?

      And Korematsu? Perspective is not just a river in Egypt, and something you sorely need.

      1. There are none so blind as those who will not see what’s being done to the Jews, to Christians, to the middle classes, to the young, to the elderly and to many more of us under color of “Pandemic!” law and the WEF Great Reset.

        1. “There are none so blind as those who will not see[…]”

          Indeed, those who will not see that fighting the virus requires all of us hold back efforts to defeat the virus.

          1. “all of us” as dictated by you and your friends, who ignore reality as long as it suits you and your friends. You must be part of that “party of science” which picks and chooses which particular pseudo science they want to pretend to believe today.

            1. The conspiracy fervor is strong in this one. But he is too old to be trained. Much fear he has!

          2. “…fighting the virus requires all of us hold back efforts to defeat the virus.”

            As the Judge put it:

            “While those restrictions were “well-intentioned,” wrote U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV, “good intentions toward a laudable end are not alone enough to uphold governmental action against a constitutional challenge. Indeed, the greatest threats to our system of constitutional liberties may arise when the ends are laudable and the intent is good—especially in time of emergency.”

            1. A fan of misquoting people, are you?

              “Ignore” box checked. Have a nice day, spammer.

            2. Stickman’s order has been stayed.

              Stickman’s decision is likely to be reversed.

              Stickman has an undistinguished record and was nominated solely because has been a strident clinger since high school (if not earlier).

              Just another culture war casualty in a poorly fitting robe.

      2. Go on, explain why singling out minority groups for special restrictions is justified during an emergency. Bonus points if you don’t echo the arguments made in favor of interning US citizens of Japanese descent during WW2.

        1. The virus doesn’t have any preferences with regards to the type of humans in will infect. The known precautions are effective for literally everybody except people who will not take them.

          1. But the ENFORCEMENT of the precautions, selectively applied to “select” populations can be discrimination. Correct?

            1. “selectively applied”? Are they letting maskless people go on about their business if they aren’t Jewish?

              1. All those protestors burn loot murder rioters were Jewish, then.

                The city notice recognizes Catholic, Protestant, and Atheist synagogues, does it?

                The governor singled out non-Jewish areas and non-Jewish churches, did he?

                1. What are the Atheist synagogues like? I bet they’re nice.

              2. So, from the E-mails above, it appears the NYC Department of Building employees are specifically targeting and “enforcing” social distancing in Orthodox Jewish areas. Aggressively knocking on, and attempting to gain entrance specifically to Orthodox Jewish businesses and areas.

                Are they doing the same to, for example, African American businesses in NYC? (As African Americans have been shown to have substantially higher infection rates). Or are they TARGETING Jewish areas for the enforcement, while having limited to no enforcement of this type in other areas.

                If it’s the latter, it’s a problem. A big one. And as a defender of civil rights, I think it’s wrong for NYC to be doing this.

                1. Unfortunately it’s the latter ????
                  There are stores that are non Jewish in these red zones that are open for business as usual while just a few blocks away in the Jewish neighborhoods there are inspectors and cameramen trying to “catch the Jews in the act” of doing something wrong. Shuttering stores, handing out summonses.
                  But really, do we have to look further than the protests, that are STILL being encouraged by DeBlasio and Cuomo, to see the double standard and hypocrisy, not to mention discrimination!

                2. “So, from the E-mails above, it appears the NYC Department of Building employees are specifically targeting and “enforcing” social distancing in Orthodox Jewish areas. Aggressively knocking on, and attempting to gain entrance specifically to Orthodox Jewish businesses and areas.”

                  If that’s where the virus is spreading, that’s where public health officials should be acting.

          2. Is that why contact tracers in NYC (and elsewhere) were ordered not to ask whether people participated in mass protests? Do you think the known precautions exclude “avoid large groups of shouting people in protracted proximity”, but include “avoid religious services”?

      3. What does tolerance and diversity have to do with responding to a pandemic?

        Look up the word “pretextual” and get back with us. The feigned ignorance wears thin.

        1. If you want to make a “pretext” argument, you’re going to need to supply at least some sort of case for why the existence and widespread availability of the SARS-coronavirus-19 virus should be ignored.

          1. Thank you for the deep insight. It is now obvious to me that Jews are the only ones spreading the coronavirus, so we should target their communities.

            1. “It is now obvious to me that Jews are the only ones spreading the coronavirus, so we should target their communities.”

              If this insight came to you after reading what I wrote, the problem is with you and not with the writing.

              If the virus is spreading in a community, then that community needs more vigilance in maintaining virus-containment. This is true no matter what community you’re talking about.

              1. The “insight” is in the window to your depraved bigoted soul.

                Every word you type just makes your bigotry more obvious. I wonder why you think that is a good thing to advertise.

                1. You’re projecting.

            2. The only thing that’s obvious to anyone is that you’re a rabid antisemite who is buying into the BS. They’re egomaniacal politicians on power trips. What’s your excuse?!

              1. “What’s your excuse?!”

                I’m trapped living in objective reality, while you obviously have the support of a rich, lush, fantasy life. One that, oh dear, seems to be filled with obvious, rabid, anti-semites.

              2. “The only thing that’s obvious to anyone is that you’re a rabid antisemite”

                It’s anti-semitic to wish that Jews (along with everyone else) not contract and spread coronavirus? Guilty, I guess. Rabidly (I don’t want them to contract rabies, either.)

  3. Perhaps you could put your credibility with these anti-social, stale-thinking citizens to good use and try to persuade them to ditch the lethal recklessness; abandon the belligerent ignorance; choose reason and education over superstition and stupidity; and (1) wear masks and (2) behave responsibly with respect to the coronavirus during a pandemic.

    1. I am one of those “antisocial stale-thinking citizens” you are referring to, none of which I am, thank you very much. I really hope and pray that you’re not an actual Reverend with these bigoted narrow minded ignorant comments of yours, but if you are, I suppose it’s of the Church of Satan.
      Who is “Them” exactly? Just throw in a pronoun to include ALL Jews? And if we’re choosing “reason and education,” then how do you “reasonably” argue that protests are ok but schools aren’t? How do you “reasonably” argue that non Jewish stores mere blocks away, also in the red zone, are still open? How do you “reasonably” argue that the numbers of Covid cases in other areas of black and Latino communities are much higher and yet they have only targeted and restricted the Jewish communities.
      You clearly are unintelligent, and uninformed and know NOTHING about jews or their religion, or morals, or values or lifestyle if you can say the ignorant insensitive things you did.
      It would be the “reasonable” thing for you to educate yourself before you spew your ignorant rhetoric.

      1. Who is “Them” exactly?

        The yahoos for whom Prof. Blackman advocates with his partisan rants and, in particular, those who have sent him thanks.

        “How do you “reasonably” argue that non Jewish stores mere blocks away, also in the red zone, are still open? How do you “reasonably” argue that the numbers of Covid cases in other areas of black and Latino communities are much higher and yet they have only targeted and restricted the Jewish communities.”

        If you have evidence that other belligerently ignorant and reckless jerks who fancy themselves smarter than a virus are being treated dissimilarly for similar conduct, I will support similar treatment for those losers. The issue isn’t religion. The issues are a pandemic and lethally reckless, anti-social goobers.

        1. The evidence is available and open to the naked eye. Drive down Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn. The Jewish stores have cameras scrutinizing their every move, and inspectors harassing them and handing out fines, and the non Jewish neighborhoods do not.
          No need to look past the “peaceful protests” that are being allowed to take place. (Or Kobe Bryant’s “memorial”) Which clearly indicate that it’s not about adherence or health concerns, rather it’s all political.
          So often the Jew is the first and main political target.
          The point of this article was to illustrate that Cuomo has an agenda and is on a dangerous rampage to target the Jews, as history repeats itself.

          1. “Kobe Bryant’s ‘memorial'”

            Kobe Bryant died in January, before the coronavirus came to the USA.

            “The point of this article was to illustrate that Cuomo has an agenda and is on a dangerous rampage to target the Jews, as history repeats itself.”

            It does not actually do that. It shows that Cuomo has an agenda and is on a rampage to target the coronavirus. Don’t stand next to the target and you won’t take any splash damage.

      2. “I am one of those “antisocial stale-thinking citizens” you are referring to, none of which I am, thank you very much. ”

        So you aren’t thinking, and aren’t a citizen? What value is your opinion, then?

  4. “I will much more to have say about that order”

    Yoda dyslexia you have.

    1. I didn’t know Yoda was Jewish. Does your Yoda hatred come from your Jewish hatred, or is it the other way round?

      1. Josh is channeling Yoda

      2. “I didn’t know Yoda was Jewish.”

        Possibly because he isn’t? He is a Jeedai.

      3. ” Does your Yoda hatred come from your Jewish hatred, or is it the other way round?”

        Ancient weapons and hokey religions are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

  5. Here’s a question for Josh.

    What would it take for a US DOJ Division of Civil Rights investigation to get started here?

    1. The question isn’t what it would take to begin . . . the issue is whether it could be completed, or accomplish anything other than clinger-lathering, by January.

  6. OMG, I can’t even. Does Blackman practice being stupid in front of a mirror?

    Yes, Blackman. You’re getting letters of support from the people who made the “redlining” necessary in the first place, people who are unwilling to follow general rules of public health and safety and instead whine that they’re victims of antisemitism.

    1. OMG, you’re such an obvious anti-semite.

      1. I can’t wait to see full-Democratic-control Blackman.

        Kerr and a few others seem likely to permanently check out after they see what the Volokh Conspiracy becomes in January. But post-Trump Blackman will be something to behold. His series on why Supreme Court enlargement, admission of states, House enlargement, filibuster elimination, enactment of a single-payer health care system, enactment of a new Voting Rights Act, and the like are forbidden by the Constitution (if the Constitution is properly understood) will be comedy gold.

    2. Hi Hyman, you self hating Jew!
      Et Tu Brute?
      I am a letter writer, I live in a red zone, I have barely left my house since March, and when I do it’s with a mask and social distancing.
      As do the majority of the Jewish religious people in the red zones.
      We have children to educate, families to feed, elderly to take care of, charity and community work to do, and jobs to work at. We are wonderful, moral, ethical, intelligent, incredible people.
      Cuomo and DeBlasio are egomaniacal politicians on power trips.
      What’s your excuse?!
      You think bec you live out of the red zone and aren’t religious you’re immune from Jew hatred? You think being an ignorant bigot will “save you?” Turned out really well for our ancestors in Europe just a few years ago.
      I implore you to do some deep soul searching and figure out what would compel you to leave such hateful ignorant comments on a public forum, where people are showing support for the jews, one of whom you are…

      1. “I am a letter writer, I live in a red zone, I have barely left my house since March, and when I do it’s with a mask and social distancing.”

        I commend you for responsible, lawful, reasonable conduct.

      2. “As do the majority of the Jewish religious people in the red zones.”

        Not a large enough majority if the virus is still spreading there.

        And if, as you say, you and all your friends are already taking virus precautions, why would you complain that someone is making sure you’re doing what you say you’re already doing?

    3. Hi Hyman, you self hating Jew!
      Et Tu Brute?
      I am one of those letter writers, I live in a red zone, I have barely left my house since March, and when I do it’s with a mask and social distancing.
      As do the majority of the Jewish religious people in the red zones.
      We have children to educate, families to feed, elderly to take care of, charity and community work to do, and jobs to work at. We are wonderful, moral, ethical, intelligent, incredible people.
      Cuomo and DeBlasio are egomaniacal politicians on power trips.
      What’s your excuse?!
      You think bec you live out of the red zone and aren’t religious you’re immune from Jew hatred? You think being an ignorant bigot will “save you?” Turned out really well for our ancestors in Europe just a few years ago.
      I implore you to do some deep soul searching and figure out what would compel you to leave such hateful ignorant comments on a public forum, where people are showing support for the jews, one of whom you are…

  7. NY should lift all restrictions and put these complaints to rest.

  8. The lockdown is the greatest crime against humanity in history. It will kill 130 million people by starvation, in the shortest time. The Democrat Governors perpetrating this hoax should be arrested, tried and executed for treason, in the second Trump term.

    1. Still clinging to that one-in-ten longshot?

      Fantasizing that 130 million will starve because they can’t attend concerts, ballgames, or similar gatherings, or because they are to wear masks?

      Open wider, clinger.

  9. Josh, you are doing a service not just to the Jewish canaries in NY, but to the entire nation. I wish more people had the courage to speak their minds.

  10. Thank you Josh for being the voice of reason for so many voiceless people. Best of luck on all your endeavors, and may God Bless You!

  11. “may God Bless You!”

    Your god is a paltry, illusory thing.

  12. Cleveland Heights OH motto is “All are Welcome”. The city has several Orthodox synagogues and offers choice scholarships to the Jewish schools. Taxes are high for Ohio but not compared to NY. Check it out.

  13. To my brother Jews of New York, and all Jews in America, arm yourselves!

    Buy a gun and learn how to use it.

    Even in the anti gun NYC, you can still jump thru the hoops and get a gun to keep in your house. You can still go the nearest range and practice with it.

    Solzhenitsyn said that In the gulags the prisoners wished they had resisted the mass arrests.

  14. “To my brother Jews of New York, and all Jews in America, arm yourselves!”

    But when you do, follow the guidance to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Doing this helps everybody, both inside and outside of your community.

    Or become a Republican, and take the virus’ side against the people.

  15. Thank you for bringing us voices from NY. As a Jew outside of NY it’s hard to know what’s truly going on. I want to voice my support for the Jews of NY who are being targeted and show that there are Jews around the country who care. One thing I was wondering is whether the Jewish community in NY is truly suffering from another COVID outbreak or whether it is simply a matter of case numbers rising due to increased testing and biased reporting in the media.

    1. “One thing I was wondering is whether the Jewish community in NY is truly suffering from another COVID outbreak or whether it is simply a matter of case numbers rising due to increased testing and biased reporting in the media.”

      Testing causes COVID?

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