KIRYAS JOEL, NY – Plans for a huge, rule-breaking Hasidic wedding here were questioned on Monday after the state sent an abandonment order to the synagogue that held it.
But the scene outside the Yetev Lev congregation on Garfield Road came wild one night. In fact, the only perceptible nod to the epidemic was when a mobile COVID-19 test bus arrived around 5 p.m.
A steady stream of bearded people in black hats walking in and out of the huge synagogue was exposed. Extending from the overhang at the top of the stairs to the floor were large white tarpaulins that prevented passers-by from seeing the scene.
Around the back, several workers ’pallets brought bottled water into space, with piles of banquet chairs and assorted stage materials. He sat nearby to store several rolling metal support trays. Shortly after 5pm, the parking lot was full.
The carpenter, who is leaving for the day, told The Daily Beast that a “big wedding” is planned for the evening. The worker said no one inside wears a mask and is bored of asking them to do one.
An hour after The Daily Beast published the story of Monday’s wedding plans, the state health commissioner took the first step to disrupt them by issuing an order to the Jetev Lev congregation in Kiryas Joel, an Orange County health department spokesman said.
A health ministry spokesman said in retrospect that the order, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Beast, called on the congregation to “cancel the wedding ceremonies unless they can be held in strict accordance with safe social segregation protocols.”
“In the event that the ceremonies are not canceled, the order will require the implementation of social distance and face-covering protocols,” the spokesman continued. “As for the two bets, it requires them to be limited to 50 people or canceled.”
A widespread invitation attracted members of the Satu Mare community to a village on the eve of Monday night for two members of prominent ultra-Orthodox families in a village north of Manhattan.
News of the weddings came out just a day after Governor Andrew Cuomo blew up the organizers of another rogue ceremony that attracted thousands of unmasked guests to a synagogue in Brooklyn.
Weddings of this nature are usually huge matters that are prohibited by New York State rules, which limit gatherings in private homes to 10 people, and religious gatherings below normal capacity.
Yetev Lev has fouled once before. In September, the county health department sent a warning letter saying, “We have drawn our attention to the fact that your congregation is operating without proper social distance or wearing a face mask … and is operating in a way that endangers those inside. the church and those with whom they come into contact. “
It was not immediately clear what measures the state planned to take to ensure compliance with the rules on Monday. “The State Police is the designated law enforcement agency for Kiryas Joel and we have been in contact with the SP,” an Orange County Department of Health spokesman told The Daily Beast. “They have an impact on law enforcement and we expect the state to allow them to do so.”
A state police spokesman, on the other hand, referred The Daily Beast to the State Department of Health when he commented on possible enforcement measures. The State Department of Health did not respond immediately to the request for clarification.
The synagogue did not respond to a request for comment on the story.
The ultra-Orthodox community has been at odds with government authorities for weeks over epidemic restrictions.
Earlier this month, the state planned the kibbutz for a huge wedding in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Then last week, a video was made of a wedding featuring all the hallmarks of the super-scattering event: thousands of people tightly packed into a synagogue, barely wearing a mask, many singing.
This quickly condemned city and state officials.
“If that turns out to be because we stopped the wedding, the reaction was,‘ Well, we’re having our secret wedding, ’it would be really shocking and completely deceptive from my conversations as I had personal conversations with members of the community,” Cuomo said on Sunday.
The city is investigating, and Cuomo said that “if 7,000 people were at a wedding, I’m sure they’ll be able to figure it out, and then we’ll bear the full consequences of the legal action.”
A Yiddish-language newspaper reported that the Brooklyn wedding was organized in secret, only by word of mouth, to avoid warning from the authorities.
But Kiryas Joel celebrants do not appear to have taken such precautions, sending written invitations, according to Lawrence Dressler, who wrote about it in his blog.
The invitation, written in Hebrew, includes detailed plans for the events on Garfield Road, home to one of the world’s largest synagogues, the Yetev Lev Congregation. A bridal reception was held in one building, while a reception for the groom was held in another building.
Last month, COVID-19 cases were so high in Kiryas Joel – a 34 percent positivity rate – that the state placed the community in closure. Within two weeks, it fell to 2 percent and the restrictions were eased. But like The New York Times reported that complaints were received that some residents refused to test to keep the positivity rate artificially low.
The wedding was not the only sore point. After the city responded in October to incidents in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, an ultra-Orthodox dwarf, Heshy Tischler, stirred up public protests that resulted in the beating of a Hasidic journalist and the arrest of Tischler.
Outsiders were immediately physically identifiable in this community, and a trio of Hasidic teenagers began circling a reporter’s car across the street on Monday afternoon near the Kiryas Joel Synagogue.
Moments later, a man who identified himself as the leader of the church came out — a faceless mask — and found out why The Daily Beast was present.
He dialed his phone and walked away before receiving an answer.
Then two cars pulled up and parked two nearby.
“There are no pictures! No videos! One of the drivers shouted.
– Are you a cop? demanded the other.
“Please go elsewhere, we need parking,” the manager added.