(JTA) – As COVID-19 test positivity rates continue to climb in Orthodox communities in New York, a major leader of the Satmar Hasidic sect was put on a ventilator Wednesday morning, Sept. 30, after becoming critically ill with COVID-19. Flyers circulated online Wednesday morning calling for prayers for Mayer Rispler, a community leader in the Aronim faction of the Satmar community.
An accountant by trade, Rispler has long been one of the community’s most important leaders and a major donor to Satmar institutions. He has also served as a spokesperson for the community at times. In April, after a large funeral prompted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to lash out at the community in a widely criticized tweet, Rispler defended the mayor and called for compliance with government health regulations. “We do not condone any behavior that puts people at risk and pledge to keep working alongside the brave men and women of the NYPD in addressing and eliminating any such occurrences,” Rispler wrote at the time.
Rispler is not the first major leader in the Satmar community to become gravely ill with COVID-19. Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum, head of the Aronim faction, reportedly tested positive for the virus in March.
Main Photo: Mayer Rispler, center, a leader in the Satmar Hasidic community, at a meeting in 2017. (Twitter via JTA)