NEW YORK (VINnews) — Congregation Kahal Tolaas Yaakov in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, whose leader Rabbi Chaim Mertz passed away from COVID-19 two weeks ago, was served with a cease-and-desist order by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Friday due to the congregation’s continued violations of the state’s executive order regarding gatherings and religious service.
The congregation was in the spotlight recently after the NYPD broke up a huge funeral gathering for Rabbi Mertz which violated social distancing restrictions. In the wake of the funeral, Mayor De Blasio caused an uproar after he singled out the Jewish community in a tweet where he termed the gathering and other such gatherings “absolutely unacceptable.” De Blasio later apologized for targeting the Jewish community and the congregation released a statement expressing “regret” for the controversy.
However after the congregation held a memorial service a week after the funeral for Mertz in which over 100 people participated, the city decided to take action against them and served them a cease-and-desist order to stop them from continuing their illegal activity.
Olivia Lapeyrolerie, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said in a statement to the Jewish Insider that “while we know how important faith is during this time of crisis, this behavior is unacceptable, dangerous and reckless. If this house of worship continues to defy the City and State’s executive order, the building will be shut down.”