Police monitor Bed-Stuy yeshiva after shutting down 60-person class

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Police shut down Nitra Yeshiva on Madison Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant yesterday because of COVID-19 violations.
Photo by Todd Maisel

Police continued to monitor a Bedford-Stuyvesant yeshiva on Tuesday, one day after cops raided the school where more than 60 students were gathered for religious classes, officials said.

The students at Nitra Yeshiva, located on Madison Street by Ralph Avenue, were said to have come from the Williamsburg’s Satmar Hasidic community, where police have been shutting down similar schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Officers arrived to the yeshiva just before noon on Monday and ordered administrators to shut the school down after at least two locals contacted police about children playing on the roof, police said. Officials estimate that there were more than 100 students and teachers inside the building. 

The city issued a Cease and Desist Order addressed to the yeshiva’s administrator David Moskowitz that was posted on the front door of the building. There were no summonses or arrests. 

When asked why police didn’t issue summonses, Commissioner Dermot Shea said in an interview on NY1 that officers don’t tend to issue summonses or make arrests if people comply when officers ask them to disperse.

“The mayor said we will enforce this and if people disperse immediately, they are not getting summonses – but there is no gatherings, period,” he said.

Shea added that precinct commanders can use their own discretion while issuing a summons. 

“If a summons was issued, I would’ve been fine with it,” Shea said. “I let the precinct commanders make their own decisions based on the facts and what matters is they accomplished their goal.”

Most synagogues and orthodox schools are complying with the rules, Shea said. He said other areas have looked “pretty good,” including parks and beaches.

“Most people are social distancing and we are working well with other agencies to make sure people understand, but there are still one or two spots we are moving to correct where there are a little too many people – but it is an improvement over what we’ve seen in the past.”