NEW JERSEY - Four rabbis sent a letter to residents in Lakewood and vicinity this week asking them to follow the Governor's Executive Orders. The orders have been in place for weeks.

The cluster of infection for Lakewood, Toms River and Brick now stands at 2,250 on Tuesday. The letter demands compliance.

Monday afternoon brought charges against still more groups in town. Yossi Itzkowitz and Tzvi Blau, 29,of Toys4U - a toy store in Lakewood had, according to police, an estimated 50 or more people outside the store. No masks, no social distancing. The lot was filled with cars including 10 in the fire lane according to the Office of the Attorney General and NJSP. 

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New Jersey now has over 2,805 dead.

The 4 rabbis from Beth Medrash Govoha Yeshiva write that 'serious Aiva', or antisemitism, is the problem when groups meet during the pandemic.

The letter writers are 

Shmuel Felder,

Yaakov Forchheimer,

Shmuel M. Katz and

Osher C. Lieberman.  

The letter reads, in part:

"We are living in troubled times, faced with the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic in our country and throughout the world. To our sorrow, our communities have seen thousands take ill, both young and old, and the hundreds of deaths, lo aleinu, from the pandemic. Medical direction as to how to deal with this pandemic has been evolving as new research and information develops. Leading experts believe it possible that someone who was sick with Coronavirus might still be able to infect others long after the person recovers. The top medical experts are unsure if one who is fully recovered develops immunity, or whether they might be at risk of repeated infection. The newest data indicates that it is possible that a percentage of those who were ill and recovered, might be at risk of reinfection. Our local hospitals are facing shortages of staff and materials, and do not have enough beds, which may have drastic effects on patients."

The detailed letter was reported by the Asbury Park Press, who covered multiple stories of arrests in Lakewood, including child endangerment charges, from non-compliance of Governor's executive orders. The letter claims, without any proof, that by meeting in illegal groups, it creates antisemitism. 

The Governor initially called such illegal gatherings 'benign.' He now calls the people involved "Jackasses" and "Knuckleheads." 
 

In addition to multiple charges being filed in Lakewood, illegal gatherings have also been acted upon in Newark, Rumson, Morris County and elsewhere.

“Because lives are at stake, enforcement action will be taken without hesitation against those who are blatantly placing the lives of others at risk.” New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan said in a statement.

Across the state, residents are told to stay home. So law enforcement and healthcare professionals as well as everyday citizens are concerned when groups are gathering illegally. It's a life threat.

The four rabbis write that people who witness illegal gatherings on a porch during a deadly pandemic may just be 'Aiva' or antisemitic. The rabbis message suggesting racism and religious hatred - shared with the Lakewood community of about 100,000 - provided no proof at all.

It states:

"Minyanim are prohibited and you are not allowed to participate in a minyan in any way. This includes, but is not limited to, minyanim in courtyards, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, or on porches. While originally some porch minyanim may have been approved by some Rabbanim under very specific criteria from health experts, experience has shown that they lead to serious Aiva (antisemitism) and other major problems and therefore those approvals are no longer valid. This issur is in effect until we provide new guidance which we hope to do once, in our opinion, the situation improves. Until then all minyanim in any form are prohibited. Reports of oral guidance that may differ from the above should be disregarded." states the letter.

They urged the community to continue to rise to the challenge and obey Murphy's orders:

"Our community has risen to the challenge and adopted appropriate precautions. Bezras Hashem Yisbo-rach, who is the true Rofeh Cholim, we have seen a slowing of the growth rate in those becoming sick. Experts agree that this is attributable to the precautions we have taken, if not for which we could have seen unimaginable catastrophe. In the coming weeks, it is necessary for us to double down on precautions in order to see continued improvement in public health. We cannot afford any relaxation in precautions in any way until such time that we are sure it is totally safe. In light of this, we are issuing our clear rulings for all members of our community without exception. Pikuach Nefesh requires all to adopt appropriate precautions and to follow the advice of the health authorities." You can read their full letter on Scribd 

Murphy also updated the State of New Jersey on the pandemic during his press conference Tuesday which you can read HERE.