Judge Denies Request to Delay New York COVID Restrictions

judge lawsuit agudah cuomo
A man in Boro Park walking home from shul this week. (Eli Wohl)

A federal judge has denied Agudath Israel’s request for a temporary restraining order on New York state’s new restrictions on houses of worship, dealing a blow to the Orthodox community in the first of several hearings in suits against the state.

“Crushing Disappointment,” Agudath Israel tweeted minutes before 4 p.m. “Judge denies TRO, allows draconian restrictions on religious worship in NY. More info to follow. Agudah reminds everyone to follow health guidelines as we celebrate zman simchaseinu. We will regroup after Yom Tov and determine our next steps.”

The suit was brought by Agudath Israel and several Agudah shuls in Brooklyn and Queens, opposing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s restrictions announced Tuesday, limiting houses of worship to as few as ten people in parts of the state experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak

The governor also ordered the closure of schools and businesses and limited gatherings in the affected areas. The suit by Agudah was one of several to be filed on the restrictions.

At Friday’s hearing, Agudah attorney Avi Schick asked Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto of the Eastern District of New York to at least grant a temporary restraining order through the Shemini Atzeres/Simchas Torah holiday, which ends Sunday night. But Matsumoto denied the request.

The ruling in the Zoom hearing came two-and-a-half hours before the onset of the holiday.

Following the ruling, Agudah spokeswoman Leah Zagelbaum tweeted, “We will engage further advocacy and employ every tool at our disposal to protect our rights in batei knesios and yeshivos. Stay safe, follow the health guidelines, be mispallel, and gut yom tov.”

Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.


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