Kiryas Joel wedding calls into question state’s order on large gatherings, religion
A high-profile wedding celebration is calling into question the state’s executive order when it comes to large gatherings and religion.
Thousands of people packed inside the Village of Kiryas Joel’s main synagogue on Garfield Road last Tuesday.
Video of the event given exclusively to News 12 shows people sitting shoulder to shoulder and without masks, on rows of bleachers and on the floor, during a Hasidic custom called a mitzvah dance, following the wedding of Grand Rabbi Aron Teitelbaum’s granddaughter.
Catering halls statewide have not yet reopened, causing many people to postpone their weddings, but Village Administrator Gedalye Szegedin says the event was held at a synagogue and falls under Phase 2 guidelines, allowing houses of worship to reopen.
Szegedin also compared the event’s size to recent protests saying, “Sometimes social gatherings are unavoidable and spontaneous as we’ve seen the multiple large protests all over the streets of the U.S.”
According to the New York state website, whether protesting or at a wedding, New Yorkers are required to wear masks and maintain a 6-foot distance in public.
Places of worship are permitted to reopen – but at 25% occupancy – with all social distancing protocols in place.
Village officials say despite the turnout, the synagogue was at 25% capacity and that masks – whether worn or not – were made available to everyone.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly said it’s up to local officials to enforce the executive order, which can include misdemeanor charges and fines up to $10,000.
County officials say it’s up to state police to investigate and that the governor has been notified of the apparent loopholes.
News 12’s calls to state police have not been returned.