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Agudath Israel asks Supreme Court to end Cuomo’s COVID-19 restrictions

Agudath Israel, the largest ultra-Orthodox umbrella group in the United States, has filed an injunction with the U.S. Supreme Court to block Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s October orders restricting attendance at houses of worship to 10 or 25, depending on local coronavirus infectivity rates.

Agudath Israel argues that the governor’s restriction specifically targets the Jewish community.

“History has shown us that in challenging and uncertain times, religious minorities, and Jews in particular, are often the first to have their rights curtailed. For this instance, and for all future instances, we cannot allow this to rest unchallenged,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudah’s executive vice president in a statement.

Cuomo’s orders have been met with heavy pushback from the Orthodox community in Brooklyn and outside New York City whose neighborhoods were at the center of “red zones” where the heaviest restrictions were put into place.

However, many of those neighborhoods had positivity rates around 10% and higher, well above the 3% positivity rate, that designates an area a “focus zone.”

The Agudath’s suit comes just days after a similar move by the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

In neighboring New Jersey, while general indoor gatherings are limited to 10 individuals, religious and political gatherings protected under the first amendment have an exemption allowing for 25% of a room’s capacity of upto 150 individuals.

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