Secret Hasidic wedding with hundreds of attendees fined $15,000 for breaking coronavirus rules

Now, city leaders say they’re taking action. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said the event’s organizers will be fined $15,000 for violating pandemic restrictions, adding that more penalties could come.

“What we do know is unquestionably it was too many people,” De Blasio told reporters on Tuesday. “It appears that there was a very conscious effort to conceal what was going on. And that’s what makes it even more unacceptable.”

The wedding, organized by leaders of the Satmar sect, was the latest act of defiance against pandemic rules in Brooklyn’s Hasidic community, which health officials have cited for ignoring mask regulations and driving local spikes in the virus. Tensions boiled over in October, when hundreds of Orthodox Jews took to the streets to protest new restrictions on religious gatherings, clashing with the police and burning masks.

The conflicts come as coronavirus cases are on the rise in New York. The state reported 4,881 new cases and 45 new deaths on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post’s coronavirus tracker. In the past week, the percentage of new daily reported cases and deaths, as well as the percentage of covid-related hospitalizations have all risen in the state.

This was not the first time the Yetev Lev D’Satmar synagogue has come into conflict with officials over a wedding. In October, the state health commissioner personally intervened to shut down a planned wedding for the grandson of Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, the synagogue’s rabbi, that could have drawn 10,000 guests, the New York Times reported.

This month, for the wedding of the grandson of another rabbi, the sect’s leaders worked to keep the celebration a secret, according to Der Blatt, a Yiddish-language paper. The newspaper said it was aware of the wedding plans but remained quiet “so as not to attract an evil eye from the ravenous press and government officials,” reported the Times, which obtained a translated copy of the article.

But how did hundreds of attendees keep the secret?

“All notices about upcoming celebrations,” Der Blatt wrote, per the Times translation, “were passed along through word of mouth, with no notices in writing, no posters on the synagogue walls, no invitations sent through the mail, nor even a report in any publication, including this very newspaper.”

The wedding lasted more than four hours, the Times reported. Representatives of the Yetev Lev D’Satmar congregation did not respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment as of early Wednesday morning.

On Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) blasted the synagogue over the event, calling it a “blatant disregard of the law” that was “disrespectful to the people of New York.”

If the event’s organizers kept it “secret” due to the state health commissioner’s move to block October’s wedding at the synagogue, he said, that act of defiance would be “shocking.” The governor was also skeptical that local officials wouldn’t have been alerted to such a large gathering.

“If 7,000 people went to a wedding, you can figure that out right?” Cuomo

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Brooklyn synagogue that held crowded, secret wedding to be fined $15,000: Mayor de Blasio

As coronavirus cases continue to surge across New York City, a Brooklyn synagogue will be slapped with a $15,000 fine for hosting a huge wedding in violation of restrictions aimed at reducing the COVID infection rate, Mayor de Blasio said Monday.

“We know there was a wedding. We know it was too big. We don’t have an exact figure, but whatever it was, it was too big,” Hizzoner said on NY1. “There appeared to be a real effort to conceal it, which is absolutely unacceptable.”

a group of people standing on a sidewalk: NYPD officers speak with community members briefly outside a synagogue in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

© John Minchillo
NYPD officers speak with community members briefly outside a synagogue in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

NYPD officers speak with community members briefly outside a synagogue in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (John Minchillo/)

Video: Mayor De Blasio Speaks At Brooklyn Church (CBS New York)

Mayor De Blasio Speaks At Brooklyn Church



He’d been asked about a published report describing thousands of attendees at the Nov. 8 wedding of a top rabbi’s grandson in the Yetev Lev temple in Williamsburg.

“There is going to be a summons for $15,000 immediately for that site,” de Blasio said. “And there could be additional consequences quite soon, as well. That’s just not acceptable.”

The wedding came after the state imposed a 10-person limit on private gatherings and as the city is grappling with an alarming surge in COVID cases.

a close up of a man wearing a suit and tie: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

© Bryan Thomas
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

Earlier Monday, de Blasio said the entire city could be declared an “orange zone” as soon as next week, shutting down non-essential businesses and putting an end to indoor dining.

“We’ve got to fight back the second wave. We still can. We get through these holidays, we have a chance to really turn the corner, but it’s up to every one of us,” he said at a press conference.

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