Exclusive: Eight Prominent Rebbes to Cuomo: Allow Yeshivas to Open
New York - Eight of New York’s most prominent admorim penned a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, pleading with him to allow the immediate reopening of the yeshivas, which have been closed for the past three months over Covid-19 fears.
“We are writing to collectively express our appreciation for your leadership and vision
during this crisis,” wrote the rebbes, which included both Satmar, Bobov-45, two Vizhnitz, Munkatch, Pupa and Vien, “and for caring for the safety of our community and all of New York State’s residents during this unprecedented pandemic.”
The rebbes wrote in the letter, which was dated May 28, that “primary” among the mitzvos Yidden perform is the obligation to study Torah. “We now turn to you with an urgent request that goes to the root of the very fabric of our religion — the religious education of our youth. ... Religion is an essential service for the well-being of society — and we are therefore asking to be able to continue teaching and performing our sacred religious duties, which is only possible through in-person teaching and peer study.”
The letter was received by the governor’s office, confirmed Assemblyman Joe Lentol, the Williamsburg lawmaker who delivered it.
“I am pleased to have joined the Satmar Rebbes, Viznitz Rebbes, and the Rebbes of Pupa, Bobov-45, Munkatch and Vien, to fight for the reopening of Summer camps. Our children need structures and safe programming to help everyone through this COVID-19 crisis. Thank you Governor Cuomo for working with us to open summer day camps,” Lentol said. “This is a good and important first step to reopen our communities. Children’s safety and well-being must always come first.”
In their missive, the rebbes expressed the difficulties members of their kehillas have had due to the lockdown precipitated by the coronavirus.
“Families are pleading with us to help relieve the tension and anxiety they are experiencing,” they wrote. “Every day, we hear about the destruction of painstakingly nurtured parent-child relationships and the dramatic loss of income and the breakdown of the religious worship and education that has always served as a bastion of strength for our people in dark times.”
The rebbes assured the governor that they are prepared to implement any safety precaution necessary to prevent the disease’s spread.
“By enabling our studies to recommence according to our age-old tradition,” the letter concluded, “you will not only help preserve our heritage, you will also save our children, restore our families and rebuild our community.”