Summer Camps Shuttered for 2020: Statement by Agudath Israel


Agudath Israel of America expresses its deep disappointment in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his administration for shuttering overnight camps for tens of thousands of children.

The news, released in a late Friday news dump in the form of a statement by State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, will be a blow to the physical, socioemotional, and psychological well-being of children who have already endured forced quarantine for nearly three months, as well as their religious development.

Especially troubling about this development is the fact that it comes at a time when cases of COVID-19 in NY have plummeted for six consecutive weeks. Further, among the nearly 8 million COVID-19 cases worldwide there have been few cases, and even fewer serious cases, among children.

In an effort to minimize risk of infection in a summer camp setting, Agudath Israel and the Association of Jewish Camp Operators (AJCO) had proactively commissioned leading infectious disease doctors around the country to create rigorous, safe camping protocols for the COVID-19 era. Agudath Israel then brought this proposal to the Governor’s office and intensively advocated for this cause.

The proposal included, among other safety measures, rigorously testing children at multiple points before and during the summer and submitting documentation attesting to this. No positive cases would enter camp, and the camps would then completely lock down in a “protective bubble.”

Yet despite the strong support of this proposal by internationally renowned medical experts, Commissioner Zucker rejected it out of hand.

This is not the only troubling use of Governor Cuomo’s executive authority, and we have noted this before. Governmental power has also been used as a sword against religion, instead of the shield the Founding Fathers intended it to be.

For example, all religious services in New York City are still strictly limited to 10 individuals per building. This cap is irrespective of the size of the building, number of floors in the building, and the wearing of PPE or implementation of social distancing. Nor is there any additional latitude afforded for outdoor services.

In contrast, horse racing has no fixed upper limit on the number allowed to participate, up to 50% of maximum room capacity. Similarly, professional sports training is allowed statewide where occupancy is below 50% of maximum occupancy, with no arbitrary numerical ceiling. As of June 26th, outdoor graduations are allowed for up to 150 people. And it is no secret that mass protests of far greater than 150 people have been implicitly allowed. Yet Orthodox Jews cannot pray outside in numbers greater than 10.

We respect that Governor Cuomo is forced to make difficult decisions in these difficult times. But his mantra has been to follow the data, follow the science, and follow the law.
Sadly, his decisions regarding overnight summer camps and religious practices fall far short of this ideal.

In light of today’s development, Agudath Israel and other summer camp representatives will consider whatever remaining options may be available to them.



  1. The govern is a moron.
    And you loser NYers stop voting for dems I know you love the money. But money isn’t everything. This is what you get.

  2. The fact that politicians are behind the closing of camps and not doctors, should hint what's really going on.

    Maybe it’s time for Jewish media and Agudas Yisrael to do some research and investigate the reason for not opening camps this year. It has nothing to do with any coroney sickness and everything to do with eradicating the invisible enemy roaming the streets knowing they’re being pursued and are out to retaliate. Thousands of these coronas have b”H been arrested, even though the media is keeping it quiet – for the moment. It would be very irresponsible for the Trump administration to allow sleep away camps to open. It’s scary enough to allow schools and day camps to open, even with – hopefully – lots of police and guards.

  3. The governor and mayor push there authority only where they won’t be embarrassed when it’s ignored. To tell a collection of hooligans and looters to socially distance us a waste of time. The order will be ignored and the governor and mayor will look impotent. It’s much easier to push your weight around with chasiddish women in Williamsburg trying to entertain their family in a public park. Closing summer camp will illicit respectful disagreement from respectful people. Same thing with Shuls. It’s a way for the governor and mayor to remain relevant without pushback.

  4. Introduce legislation to override the Executive Order or sue on constitutional grounds at best its arbitrary and capricious.

    Are going to wait until the Yomim Naroim!

  5. Jews don’t count anymore in New York. The Democrat pushers in Boro Park, Flatbush and williamsburg need to wake up and smell the coffee. Jews are being outnumbered by other groups and pleasing them counts more. Money for Jewish interests will be at risk because of this situation.

  6. So the most vulnerable people – the elderly, who are in the most vulnerable state – hospitalized and positive for corona, should be sent back to nursing homes to the uninfected vulnerable elderly, but data and science support that the least vulnerable – young people, who are in the least vulernable state – tested negative and healthy, should not be allowed to attend sleepaway camp ??!! The sheer stupidity is beyond reason and must lead one to conclude that there is callousness and politics in play.

    Does it really make more sense to have the kids roam the streets, congregate and “hang out” at random and then bring all this back to their more vulnerable parents and grandparents on a daily basis, rather then to let them get tested and go into a secluded summer camp ?!

    After 100,000+ dead, a large percentage of that from NY, I guess you can’t actually expect government to make a decision that makes sense.

  7. The agudah should band up with other religious organizations, including catholic and Muslim ones, and sue the brains out of the state if new York, and nyc, its governor and mayor should be sued for discrimination, antisemitic executive orders and so on for there have been numerous abuses of power and attack’s on the constitution, so gather the evidence and go to court

  8. Advice: If there is one person in this country who could get this done – it’s the legendary R” Moshe Sherer ZTL. We should organize a minyan at his Kever to daven for the children of Klal Yisroel and IYH in his great Zchus and efforts, this Gizairo will be removed

  9. That small business should  have been allowed to open especially when the bigger massive chain competitors were allowed  Fair  enough
    that   unfortunate reality wasn’t the fault of the Democrats it’s the fault of the the fixed pseudo  fiction known as North American capitalism 

    the Democrats  whatever their  misdeeds were the ones that shut  recreational activities , parks,  excetera  to save even a couple of lives
     is something wrong with _That_

    From a conservative
    former Republican


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