NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Brooklyn synagogue that reportedly hosted a secret wedding with thousands of unmasked guests earlier this month is facing a hefty fine.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that Yetev Lev temple in Williamsburg will have to fork over $15,000. He called the event irresponsible and unacceptable, adding it ignored COVID-19 restrictions, including mask wearing and social distancing.
“We know it was too big. I don’t have an exact figure, but whatever it was, it was too big. There appeared to be a real effort to conceal it, which is absolutely unacceptable,” de Blasio said Monday night on NY-1, adding, “That’s just not acceptable. I mean, we’ve been through so much. And in fact, the Williamsburg community in recent weeks responded very positively, did a lot more testing and was being very responsible. This was amazingly irresponsible, just unacceptable. So there’s going to be consequences right away for the people who let that happen.”
On Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the wedding “disrespectful of the people of New York.”
The New York Post reported that guests, mostly unmasked, crammed inside the Yetev Lev 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.
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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.”
A man who answered the phone at the Yetev Lev 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.
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Cuomo and de Blasio have warned all New Yorkers that even small gatherings during the holidays could fuel a spike in coronavirus infections.
“The problem is that this is a dangerous period because you have increased social activity by definition,” Cuomo said.
Virus rates will likely rise between now and New Year’s Day, Cuomo said.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)