After state officials ordered a Hasidic synagogue in Williamsburg to cancel a wedding expected to draw 10,000 people on Monday, the congregation said it will only include "close family members" to avoid a "paparazzi" event after "unwarranted attacks" were made.
"The unwarranted attacks on this event, originated by those besmirching the community, are detached from facts," the secretary for Congregation Yetev Lev D'Satmar, Chaim Jacobowitz, said in a statement sent out early Sunday. "The publicity will turn this wedding to a paparazzi and will draw spectators that may make it impossible to control the crowds to comply with social distancing. It will also deter from the celebratory and spiritual atmosphere fit for such an affair."
"Hence, we decided that the wedding will not be held as planned, and will only [be] attended by close family members," Jacobowitz said.
The massive turnout was expected for the wedding of Satmar Grand Rebbe Zalman Leib Teitelbaum's grandson, and members of the Satmar community in Rockland County, another COVID hotspot, were reportedly planning on traveling to NYC for the celebration. On Saturday, state officials issued a rare order directed at the Satmar synagogue to cancel any event that would include more than 50 people under COVID-19 restrictions.
Jacobowitz said the wedding was designed so that main parts of the wedding would include a "small circle of close family members" while the broader community would "only be able to participate for a short period of time," with a socially distanced line to do so. But after the state order, the synagogue will limit the number of guests.
Governor Andrew Cuomo had said Saturday: "You can get married...You just can’t have (thousands of) people at your wedding."
Weddings throughout the coronavirus pandemic have been linked to an uptick in cases, with one in Maine becoming a fatal superspreader event. Currently, weddings can only include up to 50 people under state COVID-19 rules. Wedding venues have sued over the restrictions.
Although the Williamsburg Satmar synagogue is not located within one of Cuomo's cluster zones where partial shutdowns have occurred, the city's Health Department had listed ZIP code 11211, where the synagogue is located, as a "Tier 2" zone, where cases were being closely watched.
On early Friday, an important figure in Williamsburg's Satmar community, Meyer Rispler, died of COVID-19, Yeshiva World reported. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency notes Rispler had supported efforts to enforce coronavirus restrictions at a Hasidic funeral following backlash to Mayor Bill de Blasio's tweet, scrutinized for singling out "the Jewish community."