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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for an investigation of a Brooklyn synagogue after its “blatant disregard of the law” by holding a “secret” wedding attended by thousands.
The Democrat leader slammed the “illegal” and “disrespectful” event earlier this month in which about 7,000 people defied social distancing and mask-wearing orders to gather at a wedding for a chief rabbi’s grandson. The Hasidic synagogue apparently held the wedding in spite of strict coronavirus orders in New York where there has been a recent surge in positive COVID-19 cases.
“If that happened, it was a blatant disregard of the law,” Cuomo said during a news briefing in New York City on Sunday. “It’s illegal. It was also disrespectful to the people of New York.”
The November 8 wedding took place inside the Yetev Lev temple in Williamsburg which has a capacity of 7,000 people. The event was reportedly planned in secret after the state ordered another wedding, with an expected attendance of 10,000, to be cancelled.
(Source: The Hill)
“The law protects everybody. It protects you, but it also protects me,” Cuomo told reporters Sunday.
“If it turns out that because we stopped that wedding the reaction was, ‘Well we’ll have a secret wedding,’ that would be really shocking and totally deceitful, from the conversations that I had, because I had personal conversations with members of the community,” he said. “It’s illegal and the city should do a robust investigation.”
A spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told NBC 4 New York that the city is investigating the synagogue which, like other religious organizations in the state, are limited to gatherings at 50 percent capacity. The synagogue’s own president, R’Mayer Zelig Rispler, died last month at the age of 70 due to COVID-19.
The wedding of Yoel Teitelbaum, a grandson of Satmar Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelman, was arranged with complete secrecy and held under the radar in the city. Just weeks before, the other Williamsburg wedding Cuomo referred to, for a grandson of Satmar Grand Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum, a brother of Aaron’s, was stopped when officials found out about it.
Brooklyn synagogue pulled off massive secret maskless wedding, skirting COVID restrictions https://t.co/IFfXHXYOo6
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) November 22, 2020
“If 7,000 people went to a wedding, you can figure that out, right? That’s the problem with a ‘secret’ 7,000. It’s hard to keep a secret,” Cuomo said at the news briefing.
“It’s my information the city is investigating. They should investigate, and if 7,000 people were at a wedding, I’m sure they’ll be able to figure it out, and then we’ll bring the full consequence of legal action to bear,” he added.
A huge mask-free hassidic wedding with thousands of guests was organized in New York by word-of-mouth alone, without any press or government officials finding out beforehand.
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) November 22, 2020
As coronavirus crackdowns were announced in several Orthodox neighborhoods last month, a protest broke out in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn. Tensions have been high as Jewish leaders and New York officials have sparred over the measures implemented to combat the pandemic with the religious leaders calling out the double standard which has allowed Black Lives Matter and similar protests.
New York Democrats were blasted recently for attending a private party in Brooklyn where photos showed that not only was social distancing not being practiced, very few people even wore masks.
Cuomo has warned about social gatherings during the holidays, urging New Yorkers to avoid large get-togethers during this week’s Thanksgiving holiday.
This weekend is critical to fighting back #COVID19. Here’s a look at the latest indicators:
• 118 patients admitted to the hospital
• 1,345 new cases
• The infection rate 7-day average is 3.11%
Wear a mask.
Avoid large gatherings.
Get tested: https://t.co/Fo48aDofTa
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 21, 2020
According to New York’s City Hall spokesperson Avery Cohen, an investigation into the wedding this month is underway. Cohen confirmed to Fox News that the city will “hold those accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”