NYC Mayor Says Sorry for Angry Tweets About Crowded Jewish Funeral

Mayor Bill De Blasio apologized Wednesday after facing criticism for calling out a funeral for a beloved rabbi.

Mayor Bill de Blasio greets healthcare workers and conducts a press conference at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, New York, April 10, 2020. | Getty Images
Mayor Bill de Blasio greets healthcare workers and conducts a press conference at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, New York, April 10, 2020. | Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio apologized Wednesday for a slew of angry tweets the previous night about a large Hasidic funeral in Brooklyn. 

De Blasio lashed out about a crowd attending a funeral for a Jewish rabbi, who died of COVID-19, according to Yeshiva World. Footage and photos of the funeral on social media show hundreds of people, with only some wearing masks, gathering in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, defying social distancing guidelines. Police officers were also seen at the funeral. 

"My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed," De Blasio tweeted Tuesday night, reportedly after police had broken up the funeral. The mayor said he went to the scene to ensure the crowd was dispersed.

He also tweeted: "Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic… what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus."

De Blasio was roundly criticized by Jewish organizations as well as current and former city council members over the social media posts. The mayor has also been facing criticism because of multiple reports claiming the community tried to coordinate with the NYPD ahead of the event.

The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council tweeted that "people failed to social distance at a funeral the same day that thousands of New Yorkers failed to distance for 45 minutes to watch a flyover," referencing a flight earlier that day by the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds in honor of health care workers.

The council also criticized De Blasio’s generalization of "the Jewish community" based on a gathering of Orthodox/Hasidic Jews. 

"This has to be a joke. Did the Mayor of NYC really just single out one specific ethnic community (a community that has been the target of increasing hate crimes in HIS city) as being noncompliant?? Has he been to a park lately? (What am I saying - of course he has!)" tweeted Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who represents a section of Brooklyn with many Orthodox Jewish community members. 

De Blasio apologized on Wednesday, saying he loves the Jewish community and that he spoke out of distress because "people’s lives were in danger before my eyes." He added that he will not tolerate anti-Semitism.

"If in my passion and in my emotion I said something that was hurtful, I'm sorry about that," he said during a daily briefing. "I have no regrets about calling out this danger and saying we're going to deal with it very, very aggressively."

New York City is one of the epicenters of the coronavirus outbreak, with the death toll climbing past 17,600 as of Wednesday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The New York Times reported that the Hasidic community, which make up a segment of New York’s estimated population of more than 1 million Jews, has been hit hard by the coronavirus.

NowThis has reached out to the New York Police Department for comment.