The Yetev Lev temple in Brooklyn has been fined $15,000 after crowds gathered to celebrate the nuptials of Yoel Teitelbaum, grandson of Satmar Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelman on November 8.
Probed about the fine and the fact the wedding went ahead de Blasio said: ‘It’s a big city with more than 8 million people.
‘It’s a huge geography to cover, and yet, consistently, when there’s been a problem, the Sheriff’s Office, the Office of Special Enforcement, they’ve done outstanding work. You’re going to see some things that unfortunately still happen, but overwhelmingly, I give them credit.’
He added: ‘I think a $15,000 fine gets people’s attention.’
The synagogue is next to a city firehouse but the FDNY, which is one of a host of city agencies that inspect sites for COVID-19 violations, was not called to inspect it.
Religious gatherings can be held indoors, but they must take place in one room and at 50 percent capacity. Masks must also be worn and those who are not in the same household must maintain social distancing from each other.
New York City is experiencing an alarming rise in COVID cases which forced public schools to close to in person learning last week. A total of 24,220 people in the city have died; more than 281,000 have tested positive.
Huge crowds gathered in the Yetev Lev temple in Brooklyn on November 8. The synagogue was fined $15,000 Monday, which works out as $2 per guest
It is not clear just exactly how many people were at the wedding. But images of the ceremony show the 7,000 capacity hall rammed with no masks in sight as the community celebrated
On November 8, crowds gathered in the Yetev Lev temple in Brooklyn to celebrate the nuptials of Yoel Teitelbaum, grandson of Satmar Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelman
It is not clear just exactly how many people were at the wedding. But images of the ceremony show the 7,000 capacity hall rammed with no masks in sight as the community celebrated.
If full, the fine would work out just $2 per person, something de Blasio was asked about Tuesday.
He said: ‘I think the cease-and-desist order is crucial here. From this point on, if there’s any further illegal activity in that building, the building will be closed down. I think that’s a pretty clear deterrent.’
On Monday de Blasio told New York 1 the wedding was ‘not acceptable’, adding: ‘I mean, we’ve been through so much. This was amazingly irresponsible, just unacceptable.’
He added: ‘There appeared to be a real effort to conceal it which is absolutely unacceptable. There will be a summons for $15,000 immediately for that site and there could be additional consequences quite soon as well.’
Bill de Blasio, pictured Tuesday, said that New York City is ‘too big’ to catch every violation of COVID-19 rules after a 7,000 strong Hasidic wedding was able to go ahead in secret
Organizers kept the wedding secret after state officials canceled an earlier Satmar wedding, The New York Post reported, citing a Yiddish newspaper, Der Blatt.
To keep the celebration under wraps, the community had shared information on the wedding only by word of mouth as organizers schemed to avoid it being broken up by ‘the ravenous press and government officials’.
The crowd crammed into the wedding even as coronavirus cases in the city and state rise with de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo threatening further lockdowns if the outbreak isn’t taken back under control.
Cuomo had said of the gathering: ‘If that happened, it was a blatant disregard of the law. It’s illegal. It was also disrespectful of the people of New York.’
The secrecy around the nuptials was heightened last month after the state caught wind of another wedding in Williamsburg planned for a grandson of Satmar Grand Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum, a brother and rival of Aaron, the Post reports.
This wedding was expected to attract 10,000 people but was brought to a halt and changed to a virtual ceremony once heath officials stepped in.
‘We received a suggestion that that was happening,’ Cuomo said at the time. ‘We did an investigation and found that it was likely true. There was a large wedding planned that would violate the gathering rules.’
But the synagogue blasted the order to move online, insisting they had taken special measures to ensure the wedding complied with coronavirus safety protocol and claimed, ‘nobody verified our plans before attacking us.’
They said the cancellation of the wedding was ‘an unwarranted attack’ on the temple’s congregation, causing them to use increased caution for the November ceremony incase authorities would be topped off again.
‘The days leading up to the wedding were filled with tension, not knowing what the next day, or the next moment, will bring; which disgruntled outcast might seize this opportunity to exploit even what hasn’t been written or publicized, to create an unnecessary uproar, and to disrupt the simcha, God forbid,’ Der Blatt reported.