Jewish Sleepaway Camps Sue NY Gov. Cuomo Over Coronavirus Ban

By Craig Bannister | June 19, 2020 | 5:01pm EDT
Gov. Andrew Cuomo
(Getty Images/Ira L. Black)

On Thursday, the Association of Jewish Camp Operators filed a lawsuit against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) for prohibiting overnight summer camps this year.

On June 12, New York’s Department of Health released an order banning overnight summer camps – but, not day camps – due to the coronavirus pandemic. But, Jewish camp owners say the ban violates both religious and parental rights, The New York Post reports:

The Association of Jewish Camp Operators is asking a judge to block the closures because it claims the ban violates their constitutional right to freedom of religion and parents’ right to choose the “religious education and upbringing of their children,” according to the suit filed in an upstate New York federal court Thursday.

What’s more, the lawsuit notes, Jewish sleepaway camps have health and safety protocols that make them “considerably safer than the exempted mass protests as they relate to the transmission of COVID-19.”

The lawsuit explains that religious devotion and study are integral components of Jewish overnight camps, which foster cultural identity, The Jewish Press reports:

Jewish overnight camps foster a sense of cultural identity and instill traditional religious values in Jewish children. In Jewish overnight camps, they jointly recite prayers three times a day. Part of every day is devoted to religious study. They recite blessings over the food they eat throughout the day. They observe the weekly Shabbos. They learn about Jewish history, Jewish customs and Jewish heroes.”

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