The vastly scaled-down Hasidic wedding for a New York grand rabbi’s grandson has taken place – after Governor Andrew Cuomo banned plans for a lavish event which was expected to attract 10,000 people.
The wedding ceremony for the grandchild of Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, a grand rabbi of the Satmar sect, was set to take place at the Satmar Shal synagogue on Rodney Street and the United Talmudical Academy on Bedford Street in the Hasidic Jewish neighborhood of Williamsburg.
Monday’s nuptials had been expected to bring in 10,000 guests – astronomically higher than the current 50-person limit on wedding receptions in the Big Apple put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
But the the family agreed to hold a scaled-down service on Monday and do the rest virtually, according to ABC7. The chuppah celebration and meal were only going to be attended by close family and friends.
Organizers said a receiving line would have followed social distancing guidelines, and blasted the order banning the original plans for the wedding amid tensions between authorities and orthodox communities after local authorities put nine of their most-populated neighborhoods on lockdown earlier this month.
Groups of people could be seen entering the temple on Rodney Street Monday, but it is not clear if the celebrations took place inside.
More than 100 people gathered outside the building – which is allowed, and while the synagogue is not in the city’s red zone, statewide indoor gatherings are still limited to a maximum of 50 people.
The NYPD was seen outside the building earlier in the evening. ‘We don’t want to disrespect anybody, people are allowed to gather but within reason,’ NYPD Assistant Chief Judith Harrison said.
‘We want to make sure there are no large gatherings in excess of 50 people and we’re just here to make sure that that happens.’
The Congregation Yetev Lev D’Satmar was served an order Friday night from the office of state Governor Andrew Cuomo, barring the house of worship from hosting a public wedding.
Cuomo announced Saturday that the wedding had been banned following a tip-off, as the governor celebrated progress being made to reduce virus hotspots.
‘We received a suggestion that that was happening,’ Governor Andrew Cuomo said. ‘We did an investigation and found that it was likely true. There was a large wedding planned that would violate the gathering rules.’
Video: Brooklyn Congregation Announces Hasidic Wedding Will Only Be Open To ‘Close Family Members’ (CBS New York)
But the synagogue blasted the order on Sunday, insisting they had taken special measures to ensure the wedding complied with coronavirus safety protocol and claimed ‘nobody verified our plans before attacking us.’
‘The unwarranted attacks on this event, originated by those besmirching the community, are detached from the facts,’ the synagogue’s secretary, Chaim Jacobowitz, told the NY Post.
Jacobowitz said unlike the hordes of worshippers and guests touted by state officials, only a ‘small circle of close family members’ would have been attending the wedding, and ‘the rest of the community would only be able to participate for a short period of time.’
‘The greeting cue would have been controlled in accordance with the social distancing regulations. The proper arrangements were in place to achieve that,’ he insisted to the Post.
However, the family were forced to scrap their original plans as a result of the publicity over the state’s order and the expected mass turnout, Jacobowitz said.
Tensions between the city and orthodox communities have grown after local authorities put nine of their most-populated neighborhoods on lockdown earlier this month after a spike in coronavirus infections
Despite the scaled down event, Eyewitness News said that it saw more than 50 people heading in and out of the venue, also reporting that people could be seen inside without masks.
While the 100 person crowd outside the venue was allowed under Covid rules, by the time Eyewitness News circled the block, the crowd was reportedly gone. The station said it was unclear whether the group had gone inside the synagogue.
Other Rabbis and elected leaders of the Ultra Orthodox Jewish community compelled attendees to stay at home.
New York State Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein said ‘We need to do our part. Wear a mask, get tested and to the maximum extent possible practice social distance.’
Previous marriages of Zalman Teitelbaum’s family members have drawn a sea of attendees, both in the streets of Brooklyn and in Israel.
Teitelbaum is a prominent figure in the Orthodox community, leading the Satmar sect in Williamsburg. He is the rabbi for the Satmar Shal synagogue and also oversees around 10 other smaller synagogues in the area.
New York City sheriffs served a state order Friday night prohibiting Monday’s mammoth wedding celebrations following a tip off from counterparts in Rockland County, upstate New York.
Cuomo blasted the plans in a press conference Saturday saying the event was the exact example of what not to do during a global pandemic.
‘Look, you can get married. You just can’t have 10,000 people at your wedding,’ said Cuomo. ‘You get the same result at the end of the day.’