Police Arrest Lakewood Rabbi Who Claimed COVID-19 Restrictions Are Unconstitutional

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LAKEWOOD (VINnews) — A few days ago Rabbi Yisrael Knopfler of Lakewood, N.J. joined a lawsuit presented by a Catholic priest, Kevin Robinson of the St. Anthony church in North Caldwell against New Jersey governer Phil Murphy. The two claimed that the state’s prohibition against religious services during the coronavirus pandemic violates the U.S. constitution.

Last night, police arrived at the rabbi’s home and observed him violating the law against gatherings.  After a warning, police arrested him when he refused to comply. The rabbi allegedly assaulted and officer as well as making a bonfire with more than 30 participants in contravention of laws against gatherings. Bystanders protested the  arrest, calling the policemen “Nazis” and “Gestapo.”

In the suit, the rabbi and priest claimed that social distancing regulations can be maintained even inside houses of worship just as businesses are maintaining them and in some cases received permission from the governor to open.

Murphy issued the directive on 21st of March, prohibiting gatherings with some exceptions but he did not include religious services among the exceptions.

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98 COMMENTS

  1. If the Rabbi already brought a lawsuit against the mayor (which I agree with )why didn’t he just wait for the outcome before violating whatever rule was in place?I think all this just creates more hate against the Jewish people And in the long run will be bigger problems

  2. Stop being so biased! They didn’t arrest the priest for although he disagrees with gov Murphy and filed a law suit, he does not go against the law and hold services!
    If Knopfler was told to stop (there was police involvement Pesach that told him to stop), he should’ve listened!
    Someone who doesn’t listen to authority, deserves to be arrested!!!

    • Some people never listen to authority. My grandfather once didn’t listen to the KGB agent when they told him to go to Siberia. Terrible of him.

      • That is fine. If people don’t listen, they have to be willing to pay the consequences (just like children who don’t listen to parents and then get punished) and then I am not sure why this is even a newsworthy story.
        Besides, it is a completely different story when someone is telling you to do something just because they are a Jew and when someone is not listening to a rule put in place to hopefully help a pandemic going on (whether it will help or not is a different discussion)

  3. Mamesh a Gigantic Kiddush HaShem AND it was in front of 10 people which tells us that he goes STRAIGHT into Gan Eden with no Din V’cheshbon at all.
    The fact the the people watching call the police Gestapo and Natzis is even greater then Knopfler’s Kiddush HaShem and they may just have gained Gan Eden on this world.
    Wish I was there to join them….

  4. This is a lie…neighbors called for noice complaints and then 2 cops came ans saw a bomb fire (which is illegal) they asked nicely to shut it down and he was yelling and pushing them away he was telling everyone to continue the dancing and music to make the police mad. They didn’t arrest him because of the lawsuit he was refusing to listen to the cops and got aggressive. One had nothing to do with the other!!

  5. They called US police Nazis?! Unbelievable and disgusting. Nazis didn’t arrest Jews for violating plague restrictions, they killed and burned them. Do these idiots not know the difference?

    • Odd, then. We have commenters on this site constantly calling the US president and his supporters Nazis, even though they haven’t killed and burned Jews either. We’re still waiting on Jake to call that out for being “unbelievable and disgusting.”

          • Calling police “Nazis” is not just disgusting. It shows a complete lack of value of Jewish life. Comparing law enforcement upholding the law (whether they are upholding a ridiculous law or not- separate discussion) to beasts of the worst kind who killed 6 million Jews just because they were Jews is completely heartless. Anyone who screams such a thing just to provoke police officers deserves to have his yichus checked. I wonder what some of the grandparents of these people who actually went through that gehinom on earth would have to say about that.

      • Big difference. The POTUS was elected by the American Neo-Nazis and he called them Fine People (on both sides) when they were chatting JEWS will not replace us. He continues to spread hatred and discrimination. Mexican rapists.. etc. READ todays headlines. More Antisemitic attacks under Trump than any other time. If A Policemen would call them Mexican Rapists he/she would resign or fired the same day. Got it?

        • No, the difference is that here there is the fact that the police did arrest people in the middle of davening. Whereas your examples are lies top to bottom. The 63 million Americans who voted for Trump aren’t neo-Nazis (and if you believed for a moment that they were, you’d long since have gotten out of the country). He never said that those who are saying “Jews will not replace us” are “fine people,” but rather that people who are protesting the removal of Confederate statues may be such. The rise in anti-Semitic attacks is, to a large measure, from African-Americans, who are hardly fans of Trump. And so forth.

      • Can you provide examples of, “We have commenters on this site constantly calling the US president and his supporters Nazis.”

        It should be at least a few since this is something that happens constantly. Oh, to help you out, the white supremacists who love Trump are fair game to be called Nazis.

        • Sure. For example, there have been comments by hashomer and by GoldnMedina calling Trump and _all_ of his supporters, Jews included, Nazis. There have been comments by Dyslexic YonasanW referring repeatedly to “Trumpzis.” And so forth. That you claim to not know of this shows that your moniker of “Honest” is a sick joke.

          • So you disagree that neo-Nazi’s support the President. None of those comments suggest all or most of his supporters are Nazis. Really pointless arguing with you.

        • Total nonsense. President Trump doesn’t like or is buddies with white supremacists? Although Joe Biden mentioning to a reporter about Catholicism should concern every Jew. His harping on the 2nd coming is making us feel uncomfortable.

  6. Knopfler is fake news , He has sham beis isn in lakewood and the majority of lakewood wouldn’t mind if he left town never to return . He does not represent anyone in lakewood and the kids that were there and their parents should be shamed of themselves for allowing their kids to associate with Knopfler. He is a walking chillul hashem and this website should remove the word Rabbi from in front of his name . Just because he has a beard doesn’t make him a rabbi. A Rabbi is a leader and has followers and he is neither . Please update your title . None of the lakewood attorneys are willing to defend him for a reason .Good riddance Knopfler .

  7. What on earth?

    Can’t people follow rules?

    Rabosai- Can’t we follow the rules of the medina we live in? For heaven sake- we walk with Yarmulkes and we cause such damage to the whole klall when we do foolish things like this.

  8. Barn fires on private property are legal Nobody has a right to come on to private property without a warrant the police had no right to go onto his property And the rabbi was in his legal right to tell the police to go away they could have come back with a warrant if they wanted to he will be making a lot of money now lucky him

  9. I’m very not surprised about this.

    I have a company contact who is a minister. He told me one of his colleagues in South Jersey wanted to set up a socially distant service for his congregation and ran it through the police department. The local police department said it sounded good up until a day later they came back to the minister and begged him not to do it because they had instructions from on high to arrest people if necessary. The off the record reason given was because THE PEOPLE cannot make the governor look bad.

    So I ask you, is it any surprise that the government is now going after this rabbi? He made the almighty Governor Murphy look bad. Not that Governor Murphy needs anything to help him look bad with this, he does a great job by himself. They told us they wanted a flat in the curve. Well, the curve is flattened and is on its way down. What’s your excuse now!?! It’s called CONTROL and nothing else.

  10. Not sure which country you haters live in but this Rabbi has a constitutional right to provide rabbinical Instructions and teaching around a fire. It’s the freedom to practice religion and it’s in our constitution. The police have no right to step on private property unless they have a warrant or they believe that a crime is being committed. A rabbi providing pastoral duties in his back yard is totally legal.

    • Wrong, a non-denominational law that is instituted for safety and applies to all is legal, particularly where, as here, the religion can be practiced, and is practiced, by many, without a bonfire.

      • The U.S. Constitution includes contains no clear comprehensive emergency clause, which specifies when and how a state of emergency may be declared, and which rights may be suspended, and the US Supreme Court has ruled, that an emergency does not allow either the federal government or state governments to grant themselves any new powers.

        Governments can ask religious groups to voluntarily take measures that limit the spread of COVID-19; however we cannot allow fear to override civil rights principles, including the unique protections afforded to the free exercise of religion, or the right to peaceably assemble.

    • Can you quote where in the constitution. Nowhere I looked had anything about providing rabbinical or other religious instruction and teaching around a fire during a public health emergency. Also does the supreme court agree with your reading of the constitution?

      • The Supreme Court doesn’t agree with him. Under the 10th Amendment, state have the power to protect public health and safety. There’s a long line of Supreme Court decisions supporting this that goes back to the 1820s.

  11. Who massered on a fellow Yid?! Sick evil people who are roey ligihenom! When Yidden masser on fellow Yidden, it angers HKB”H! Mosrim have to be taken out. I heap curses and eyen hora’s on mosrim. Same thing for the neighbor who snitched on Gideone Bush leading to his direct murder by the NYPD.

    • The Vilna Gaon (CM 425) writes that one may turn in someone who is endangering the public – even if the person does not have the intent of endangering the public. He references the Gemorah in Bava Kamma 117b.

      As for Gideone Busch, it is not clear that the people who called the police were Jews. It’s a mixed neighborhood and he was playing loud music and someone claimed he was menacing people with a hammer before he went back inside. Not clear mesirah was involved.

      • Aha. In that case, Phineas, please provide your name and address, and turn yourself in to the police, or we shall have to do it for you. Because we believe that you’re endangering the public, even though you (perhaps) have no intention of doing so. And after all, if you’ve really done nothing wrong – why, then, you have nothing to worry about, do you?

          • A goy, who reads books left to right, starts from the end of Choshen Mishpat and thinks that this is the primary part of Torah, before anything else. Well, we Jews prefer to read from right to left, first making sure that we’re observing the halachos in Orach Chaim, Yoreh De’ah, Even HaEzer, and the rest of Choshen Mishpat, before we arrogate to ourselves the right to masser fellow Jews on specious grounds of “endangering the public.”

      • I am sorry that is not called endangering the public. Just because the media and politicians took this out of proportion does not mean that making a relatively small outdoor gathering, dangerous. Please AL TAGZIM! As bad as Covid 19 is, you cant call that endangering the public. Anyone saying that is parroting someone else who switched the facts.

    • I wish you would study the halachos of mesira before applying that abominable label. Calling police to disperse a noisy crowd is not mesira, and it is unjust to label it that. Which posek told you that? It didn’t turn into any arrest until there were other actions that Knopfler and his crowd took. No one wants police involved here.

      Since when is the hadlakah custom a halacha? It is as foolish as being machmir on how much to drink on Purim, ending up in severe, medically risky intoxication – something halacha never suggested. Rashbi’s zechusim are better accessed when learning the Torah he authored, whether Zohar or plenty of Nigla throughout Shas. There are so many other options that one is justified in considering the noisy crowd just that, and getting help to disperse it. Those speaking with chutzpah to police created their own trouble. What a disgrace.

      • Would you say the same when other minorities are unjustly treated and resist arrest or would you say that they just shouldn’t resist ?
        Many times the police shoot them because they are resisting or brutally arrest them.
        Famously, POTUS said to make sure you bash their heads when putting them into the patrol car.

  12. Its a fact, that authorities around the world are being stricter on shuls then on other institutions. It may be hard for ” self questioning jews” to be honest ( I think they are scared of authority) and protest, instead they may be mouthing unfair criticism (anger) by not being able to accept there may be other opinions in this issue that may be valid, there is almost not one element in the whole of this ccp virus that has not been the subject of disagreements by experts ( by the way, politicians are not experts they are politicians ie salesman with an agenda)

      • That is outright not true. THey are giving summons in Williamsburg for not wearing masks outdoors. And givint out masks in the black neighborhoods. If most arrested were black, just means that more blacks violated the law.

  13. No matter who is in the right, you don’t tangle with cops. You can go to their superiors, to the news or to court afterward but will solve nothing by giving them problems at the scene. Just asking for trouble. They aren’t going to back off because you shout at them, just going to get more defensive and ready to administer pain.

  14. Suddenly frum Yidden who hate our ‘goyesha government’ are fighting for Constitutional rights? Try reading the PREAMBLE TO THE CONSTITUTION.

  15. It’s a disgrace For Jewish people to behave this way especially a rabbi. Neither do I and neither should anyone else have respect for such person

    • “Especially a Rabbi” He is definitely Not a Rabbi and very likely not even Jewish. Lakewood has a past history of Gentiles settling there and posing as Jews. Only the FBI was able to prove this (after maserin) This Gentile even wrote in many many Sefer Toras and they continue to lein today. Some become Magis Shiurum etc.

        • Ah,Aha,Hah,Aaha,Saudi,Educated,Unedicated etc are either Jews or not Jews. Gentiles who become Rabbis in Lakewood mary Jewish woman write Sefer Torahs etc is a FACT . Untill the FBI did not arrest him (for many many years) they acted like Jews. Maybe they posted here under the name Ah, Aha, Ahaha, Ha , Hahaetc.

  16. The cops had a legal right to go onto private property, without a warrant, when they see a crime being perpetrated in their presence; that is the law in all 50 states and our five territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam). It was a chilul Hashem, and shanda, the way that this Rabbi acted, as well as the moronic crowd, who were yelling “Gestapo” and “Nazis”. The Rabbi was even yelling “Gestapo”. The cops used a lot of restraint. In Israel, the cops would not have been so gentle. These idiots don’t realize that the Lakewood community needs the protection and good will of the local cops. It is bad enough that those miscreants acted in a horrible manner; however, for them to actually have backers on this site, is astounding, and incredible.

    • No no no. You must keep all Shuls and Yeshivos closed for good. Only stores and businesses are allowed to open. Keep those pesky Orthodox locked up forever. Who needs them anyway? And then you wonder why the goyim hate us.

      • No no no. You must keep all shuls closed. Only young and skinny are allowed? Old, Sick, Fat, Disabled etc. are not welcome. Isn’t this the same the Germans did when our Grandparents arrived in Auschwitz. Wow? We have a German POTUS for 3 years now it looks like some here follow their example.

  17. Where were the police violent? I didn’t see that at all. HE refused to allow himself to be handcuffed, HE refused to go into the patrol car without a fight, HE held a bonfire with 30 people knowing it was against the law (whether or not it is constitutional remains to be seen), HE chose to ignore the police warnings and HE physically assaulted the police officer. Throughout all this, they were as gentle as they could be. Calling Lakewood police the Gestapo is like calling a parent who gives their struggling toddler a bath a rapist. Using terms loosely waters down the actual meaning of it and makes the person look extremely uneducated and silly.

  18. Shuls should never be opened agean the whole ultra orthadox thing is the reason why the goyim hate us and is the biggest cous of ayva black hats lots of kids ECT….. BH the Lakewood rabonim r slowley caching on to it

  19. Why don’t the Lakewood people drive over to Brooklyn. We had fires all over the place and nobody bothered us. At the daf yomi Siem they had governor Murphy there. They should of invited the President Donald Trump instead. DemocRATs are rats.

    • Agree.
      If I sliced off Nicole Browns head, I did it out of love. The Jew, Goldman, is a different story. I hate him because you guys make prayer gatherings in backyards.

  20. Is not allowing people over 50 in shul age discrimination.? If they are potentially only hurting themselves and are willing to take the risk how can they be denied entrance

  21. I can’t believe that in Lakewood some “people” have the absolute nerve and gall to use the term nazi in reference to our police department. Absolutely disgusting. They should go back to “learn” in Yerushalim and go sit in front of a bus with their Peleg buddies and make a Chillum Hashem there.
    It seems that some in Lakewood have forgotten 2 basic concepts in Halacha.
    1. Dina D’malchusecha Dina
    2. Derech Eretz Kudma L’Torah
    When the police are enforcing a lawful order or responding to a complaint (especially a clearly visible outdoor bonfire, which is 100% illegal) they do not need to be harassed and fought with. If you fight with a police officer while in the performance of his duties, you get what you deserve. Shameful and disgusting behavior to be seem in Lakewood.

  22. Rabbi Knopfler came to Lakewood and Bais Din Vaad Hadayonim made it their Business to try to put him out of Business..in the end Rabb Knopfler Bais Din is Thriving while Bais Din Vaad Hadayonim barely exists on Pape

  23. People have lost all credibility when they call police nazi’s and behave no better then the goyim if you want to bring a lawsuit fine but please respect the law until then dina demalchusa dina stop making a chillul hashem we are in galus we are yidden we are held to a higher standard

    • Good point. In 2020 mesira is allowed and encouraged. One no longer should go to a bais din. Just go straight to the goyishe courts.

  24. not really sure why people would call officers that come to protect you Nazis the Nazis that I have read about bad not come to protect your health. besides in general it’s a good idea to do things that is productive for your agends and not to do things that is counterproductive

  25. this whole Lakewood, so called IR HATORA, is a piece of fraud…they are a bunch of low lifes, torturing their wives to go to work, and they SIT AND LEARN!!!!! its all BS!!!! lazy no good BUMS!!! that’s what they are….

    • Henry…the wives are much happier than you are .the thought that their husband can be a boor and am haaretz like what you posted is the exact reason that they will go to the end of the world that their husbands should be in a kollel.want thing one can learn vrom bilam…is that even though a chamohr can talk (or write)doeznt mean that he is still not a chamohr.

  26. What a chilull Hashem. You would think they would learn and listen after all the Yeshivish people who died from Corona virus. Stupid stupid people !

  27. Before Rabbi Knopfler Came to Lakewood .Mesira was very Rampant in Lakewood
    Because Vaad Hadayonim wa inept they would encourage everyone to go to the courts and police and sherrifs to resolve all their cases with fellow Jews .Rabbi Knopfler came to Lakewood and put an end to all that .

    • Over many centuries – indeed millenia, the Jewish community has been faced with persecution on a national, regional and local level (depending on the time period and location of course) . Historical experience, in my view, more than justifies the halachic prohibitions regarding mesira and the like. Law enforcement, the police, or any other official acting on behalf of non-Jewish agency – while benign under administration A, is just as easily made a tool of by administration B when things turn – as indeed they appear to be doing in these times in that most tolerant place, the USA. Let us not forget that the question of religious freedom – of belief and of practice (which in Judaism are most intrinsicly connected) was the motivating force behind centuries of immigration to America.

  28. All this hyperbole would perhaps have a measure of, if Shtark litvish would learn to spell or at best spell check.
    Bon fire as opposed to. bomb fire.Mamash minhooamarrzzeem. Chaval

  29. Does not look too good for Gov. Murphy, this is the 4th federal decision against this:

    A federal judge in North Carolina on Saturday sided with conservative Christian leaders and blocked the enforcement of restrictions that Gov. Roy Cooper ordered affecting indoor religious services during the coronavirus pandemic.
    The order from Judge James C. Dever III came days after two Baptist churches, a minister and a Christian revival group filed a federal lawsuit seeking to immediately block enforcement of rules covering religious services within the Democratic governor’s executive orders. Dever agreed with the plaintiffs, who argued that the limits violate their rights to worship freely and treat churches differently from retailers and other secular activities.

  30. I support the law suit and the action of Rabbi Knopfler 100%
    It takes guts and true conviction to stand up to kitted out, armed law enforcement.
    I hope more Torah leaders challenge the crackdown on religious gatherings in whatever way the deem fit.

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