President Donald Trump announced on Friday that all governors are to allow the immediate opening of houses of worship, including shuls, and that if they do not open these houses of worship, he will intervene.
The lead-up to the president’s speech and what happened behind the scenes is largely unknown, but sources indicate that Rav Aharon Teitelbaum of Satmar’s involvement led to the president’s statement.
As soon as the corona epidemic broke out two months ago, a call from the White House to some New York rabbonim was led by Rav Aharon of Satmar, who spoke with the president’s special adviser, Avi Berkowitz, who asked the rebbe to ensure that shuls are closed.
Last week, Rav Aharon of Satmar called Berkowitz and asked him to see that he can do to influence the reopening of shuls, saying that the New York closures were simply the result of a political game and obstinacy of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Rav Aharon said that just as the White House asked the rabbonim to close the shuls back then, he was asking the White House to please allow the opening of shuls now.
Last Wednesday, Berkowitz called the rebbe and told him that he had spoken to the president on the matter and the president had promised to take action before Shavuos. Thus, on Thursday, in remarks to the press, President Trump made mention of shuls, and on Friday, as is now well know, the president told all governors to open shuls immediately. Indeed, following the president’s remarks, the governor of New York gave permission to open shuls.
It should be noted that before Shavuos, Rav Aharon of Satmar will return to daven at the large bais medrash in Kiryas Yoel, along with tens of thousands of Satmar Chassidim who will go to Kiryas Yoel to celebrate the Yom Tov there.