Wednesday, January 20, 2021
When the Yiddish newspaper Der Blatt set out to explain how a massive wedding for the grandson of the Satmar grand rabbi took place despite pandemic limits on gatherings, it waited until after the event to reveal all the details.
Another Orthodox news site took a different approach: JDN, an Israeli site, published an article before a large wedding about the secrecy involved in its planning, then replaced the article with another version that said the affair would be small and in keeping with COVID rules.
Photos and video from the wedding held in Brooklyn's Borough Park neighborhood made clear that the first version of the story was accurate.
They show that hundreds, if not thousands, of guests packed into the main synagogue of one faction of Bobov Hasidism to celebrate the wedding of the youngest son of Rabbi Ben Zion Halberstam, the grand rabbi of the sect. Videos circulated the next day over WhatsApp showed a packed wedding hall with thousands of people and no masks in sight. Large tapestries with the words "mazel tov" were hung from a wall to cover windows into the hall.
The wedding is the latest example of the lack of compliance in Hasidic communities with protocols meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus. And perhaps more troubling for authorities hoping to stop these events, it is yet another example of the degree to which members of the Hasidic community are willing to keep secret violations of public health guidance that put lives in jeopardy as COVID cases rise across the country and a new more contagious variant of the disease continues to spread in the United States and around the world.
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