LAKEWOOD-The coronavirus outbreak in Lakewood is starting to have grave and sad consequences as it has been announced that six rabbis from the community have died from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
- Rabbi Avraham Levi Bressler
- Rabbi Yossel Czapnick
- Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Schmidt
- Rabbi Chaim Weill
- Rabbi Michoel Tzvi Fettman
- Rabbi Avrohom Eliezer Gordon
Lakewood Township has been a hotbed of the coronavirus outbreak and many have been reported sick and infected, but many more, with less severe symptoms have not been counted in the overall daily tally by the Ocean County Health Department.
Initially, fears of a large outbreak in Lakewood began after the annual Purim celebration as the pandemic began. Some Purim festivities were cancelled, such as one held by Lakewood Philanthropist Dr. Richard Roberts, others went on which many say could have contributed to the initial outbreak. In recent days however, state, county and local law enforcement agencies have been cracking down against large gatherings held in Lakewood even as the pandemic continues to grow.
As of today, there are just 438 reported cases of COVID-19 in Lakewood.
Now according to religious and municipal leaders, the Orthodox Jewish community is now in compliance with county, state and federal restrictions on travel and congregation.
“Our message to the community and from law enforcement is there’s really zero tolerance here because lives are at stake,” said Rabbi Aaron Kotler. “Lakewood is completely shut down, nothing is going on in town, the synagogues, the shuls, schools, shopping, everything is shut, it’s an absolute ghost town.”
Kotler said the incidents reported in the news are happening, but says some people are uninformed, doing stupid things, but compared one violation yesterday in Lakewood compared to 160 violations in Newark.
Kotler said he fully supports Governor Phil Murphy’s executive order and supports the police department’s zero-tolerance policy.
“Those who make mistakes, we’re going after them, there’s no tolerance here for even the smallest mistake because lives are at risk here,” Kotler said. He added that what’s happening in Lakewood right now is the trickle-down effect of the Purim holiday in early March.
“What we’re seeing in Lakewood is a surge from the Purim holiday,” Kotler said. Kotler said he is hoping that the community outbreak will start leveling off.
He compared Purim to Mardis Gras. It’s a celebration where members of the community go door to door in what is essentially a two-day celebration. The holiday occurred prior to any social distancing guidelines by Governor Phil Murphy and ended March 10th, days before severe restrictions were placed.