$15K fine for NYC synagogue with 7,000 person capacity after massive secret wedding

A Brooklyn synagogue was fined $15,000 for violating coronavirus restrictions after a video surfaced showing people standing shoulder-to-shoulder and apparently without masks at a massive, secret Hasidic wedding.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the fine at a news conference on Tuesday and condemned the large event as “unacceptable.”

The wedding was held on Nov. 8 at Yetev Lev D’Satmar synagogue in the Williamsburg neighborhood, according to the New York Post, which published a video that showed the crowd jumping, dancing and singing during the event. The video does not show people wearing masks.

Calls to the synagogue on Wednesday were not immediately returned.

Worshipers gather outside Yetev Lev D’Satmar synagogue in Brooklyn, N.Y. , on Oct. 19, 2020.John Lamparski / NurPhoto via Getty Images file

The synagogue holds up a maximum capacity of 7,000 people, although it’s unclear exactly how many were at the wedding.

The mayor said Tuesday that they are still trying to determine the final number of attendees.

“What we do know is unquestionably it was too many people,” he said. “Whatever that number — whether it was hundreds, thousands — it was too many people. And it appears that there was a very conscious effort to conceal what was going on. And that’s what makes it even more unacceptable.”

Organizers kept details of the wedding planning a secret as to not draw attention, according to The New York Times, citing the weekly Yiddish newspaper Der Blatt. Guests were told about the upcoming nuptials through word of mouth and no posters or notices about the wedding were left on the synagogue walls, the Times reported.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that a wedding was stopped at the synagogue before and if they kept this one a secret to avoid that happening again “that would be really shocking.”

“It’s illegal. It was also disrespectful to the people of New York,” Cuomo said.

De Blasio said that in addition to the fine a cease and desist letter was placed on the building, and if they are found to be in violation of restrictions again, the synagogue would be shut down permanently.

“We don’t want to see that happen to anyone, but we need to be very, very clear that if folks are doing something dangerous we can’t allow it to happen,” the mayor said.

The wedding was held as New York, and every other state across the country, grapples with a rise Covid-19 cases. In an update Cuomo posted on Wednesday, New York reported 6,265 positive cases and 41 deaths.

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