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Brooklyn Yeshiva under police watch after clearing students from gathering

Police shut down Nitra Yeshiva on Madison Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant yesterday as part of Covid-19 gathering violations. Many schools are still operating in secret. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Police were stationed outside a Brooklyn Yeshiva on Tuesday, a day after cops raided the school where more than 60 students were gathered for religious classes, officials said.

The students were said to have come from the Williamsburg community, where police have been shutting down similar schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

That community of Orthodox Satmar Jews is comprised of four zip codes including 11237, 11211, 11249, and 11237, which has a total of 5550 people tested with COVID-19 and of those, there were 472 people from those zip codes who died of complications from coronavirus.

Residents of Williamsburg are with their children on a cool Tuesday, the children normally in Yeshiva. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Officers were outside of Nitra Yeshiva on Madison Street in Bedford Stuyvesant all day today to make sure the community does not violate the social distancing and gathering rules.

The NYPD moved in on Monday shut down the Brooklyn yeshiva that held a class with at least 60 children, all of whom were escorted out of the building. The building itself, a turn of the century converted horse stable, is unmarked on the outside.

The raid came as a result of a 311 call at about 11:30 a.m., Mayor Bill de Blasio said, but no summonses were issued.

Officers ordered the administrator to disperse the class, and the city is issuing a Cease and Desist Order against the yeshiva. The cease and desist order was then posted on the front door of the building to remind the community of the order. The order was addressed to David Moskowitz, the registered administrator of the building.

Residents of Williamsburg are with their children on a cool Tuesday, the children normally in Yeshiva. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Commissioner Dermot Shea said in his interview on NY1 this morning that they will continue to shut down gatherings.

“The Mayor said we will enforce this and if people disperse immediately, they are not getting summonses – but there is no gatherings, period,” Shea said.

Shea said that issuing summonses is left to the discretion of precinct commanders who are enforcing the rules.

“If a summons was issued, I would’ve been fine with it,” Shea said. “I let the precinct commanders make their own decisions based on the facts and what matters is they accomplished their goal.”

Most synagogues and orthodox schools are complying with the rules, Shea said. He said other areas have looked “pretty good,” including parks and beaches. He said they will be bringing back auxiliary police officers, who were sidelined to prevent them from getting COVID-19. Several of those members have died.

“Most people are social distancing and we are working well with other agencies to make sure people understand, but there are still one or two spots we are moving to correct where there are a little too many people – but it is an improvement over what we’ve seen in the past.”

However, many in that community say the ban on gatherings should end.

“After 12 weeks you have the audacity (Chtzpah) to tell us now when and how we can open our shuls, synagogues, churches and our Schools?” said Isaac Abraham, a Williamsburg activist and critic of the mayor for past inconsistencies in enforcing the gathering ban. Abraham expressed defiance of the rules saying many feel the same way – it’s gone on long enough.

“We are all going to houses of worships on the holiday – you will not tell us if its going to be 10-15-20-30, we know to how protect ourselves and others better then government,” Abraham said “If you want, you can bring bus loads of National.Guard and have us all arrested. Thank God we are alive and will take both of you on day and night – the people that you killed in nursing homes and hospitals are dead, we are their voice. Enough is Enough.”

Police shut down Nitra Yeshiva on Madison Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant yesterday as part of COVID-19 gathering violations. Many schools are still operating in secret. (Photo by Todd Maisel)
Police shut down Nitra Yeshiva on Madison Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant yesterday as part of COVID-19 gathering violations. Many schools are still operating in secret. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

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