What to Know
- A Brooklyn synagogue should be investigated over reports that it hosted a secret wedding with thousands of unmasked guests earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday
- The New York Post reported that guests, mostly unmasked, crammed inside the Yetev Lev temple in Williamsburg for the Nov. 8 wedding
- A man who answered the phone at the synagogue on Sunday said officials there had no comment
A Brooklyn synagogue should be investigated over reports that it hosted a secret wedding with thousands of unmasked guests earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.
“If that happened, it was a blatant disregard of the law,” Cuomo said during a briefing in New York City. “It’s illegal. It was also disrespectful of the people of New York.”
The New York Post reported that guests, mostly unmasked, crammed inside the Yetev Lev temple in Williamsburg for the Nov. 8 wedding of Yoel Teitelbaum, a grandson of Satmar Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, in blatant violation of coronavirus restrictions that ban large indoor gatherings. The synagogue has a capacity of 7,000 people.
Organizers kept the wedding secret after state officials canceled an earlier Satmar wedding, the Post reported, citing a Yiddish newspaper, Der Blatt.
“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,” Cuomo said. “It’s illegal and the city should do a robust investigation,” he added.
A spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is investigating. During an interview on NY1 Monday evening, the mayor said that the synagogue that held the secret wedding will be fined $15,000 and more consequences could be coming soon.
"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," de Blasio said. "There appeared to be a real effort to conceal it, which is absolutely unacceptable."
A man who answered the phone at the synagogue on Sunday said officials there had no comment.
Compliance with coronavirus restrictions in some of New York’s Orthodox Jewish communities has been an issue since the pandemic started last spring.
Protests erupted in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn last month after Cuomo announced a crackdown in several Orthodox neighborhoods as virus cases increased. Many members of Orthodox communities complained that they were being singled out.
Cuomo warned all New Yorkers to avoid social gatherings during the holidays. “The problem is that this is a dangerous period because you have increased social activity by definition,” he said.
Virus rates will likely rise between now and New Year’s Day, Cuomo said.