The Daily Beast
Plans for a large Hasidic wedding in New York are underway days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the organizers of another rule-breaking celebration that drew thousands of maskless guests.An invitation beckons members of the Satmar community to Kiryas Joel, a village an hour north of Manhattan, for the Monday evening nuptials of two members of prominent ultra-Orthodox families.Typically, weddings of this sort are massive affairs that would be banned under New York State rules that limit gatherings at private residences to 10 people and religious gatherings below normal capacity.The ultra-Orthodox community has been on a collision course with government authorities over pandemic restrictions—and the Kiryas Joel wedding sets the stage for another confrontation. Earlier this month, the state put the kibosh on plans for a huge wedding in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Then, last week, video emerged of a wedding with all the hallmarks of a superspreader event: thousands of people tightly packed into a synagogue, barely any of them wearing masks, many of them singing.That brought swift condemnation from city and state officials. “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 from the conversations that I had, because I had personal conversations with members of the community,” Cuomo said 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 bring the full consequences of legal action to bear.”A Yiddish-language newspaper had reported that the Brooklyn wedding was organized in secret, through word of mouth only, to avoid alerting authorities.But it appears that the Kiryas Joel celebrants took no such precautions, sending out written invitations, according to Lawrence Dressler, who wrote about it on his blog.The invitation, written in Hebrew, detailed plans for the events on Garfield Road, where one of the biggest synagogues in the world, Congregation Yetev Lev, is located. A bridal reception was being held in one building, while the groom’s reception was to be held in another.The synagogue, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and the office of Gov. Cuomo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Last month, COVID-19 cases were so high in Kiryas Joel—a 34 percent positivity rate—that the state put the community under lockdown. Within two weeks, it had fallen to 2 percent, and the restrictions were eased. But as The New York Times reported, there were complaints that some residents started refusing to be tested to keep the positivity rate artificially low.Weddings have not been the only sore point. After the city responded to a surge in cases in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn in October, ultra-Orthdox gadfly Heshy Tischler whipped up public protests that resulted in a Hasidic journalist being beaten and Tischler being arrested. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.