NYC Jewish community leaders worry about rise in anti-Semitism connected to COVID hot spots

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Jewish community leaders across New York are worried about a rise in anti-Semitism connected to coronavirus hot spots.

Community leaders are telling local lawmakers that they are particularly upset by how the media and public officials are identifying COVID hot spots.

“This morning I picked up the paper and saw that it doesn't say ‘in Kew Gardens’ or ‘Rego Park,’ before it says, ‘in the Orthodox communities.’ It's not necessary,” says Queens Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz.

While the COVID outbreaks have been in areas that have large Orthodox Jewish populations, she says the neighborhoods are so much more diverse than people give them credit for.

Jewish community leaders say that only identifying the neighborhood as being Orthodox Jewish communities singles them out and puts them in danger.

“We are being portrayed in one sector of our community as being bad citizens,” says Michael Nussbaum, president of the Queens Jewish Community Council.

He says he is worried that with the rhetoric around the coronavirus hot spots, and as the virus continues to spread, anti-Semitic crimes will begin to spike.

Nussbaum says to prevent this, everything needs to be done to strop the spread of the virus.

“We are not telling you to wear a mask to interfere with your religious beliefs,” he said. “There is nothing in the Torah that says you shouldn't wear a mask.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has listed the hot spot ZIP codes several times this week and notes there is a large overlap with Orthodox Jewish communities. He says he has met with Jewish leaders to raise awareness of the seriousness of the virus.

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