Why huge Brooklyn Jewish wedding was not stopped by government

Why huge Brooklyn Jewish wedding was not stopped by government

The defiant chief rabbi of the Hasidic sect that held a massive secret wedding in Brooklyn told his followers days later, “We won’t surrender.”

Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, the spiritual leader of the Satmar sect in upstate Kiryas Joel, was just as stubborn about the community’s schools remaining open despite government orders to close as COVID-19 cases spike.

“We won’t surrender. We won’t close down. And indeed, we didn’t close down, neither the boys’ schools, nor the girls’ schools, nor the yeshivas. Neither the large ones nor the small ones. Everything proceeded as usual,” Teitelbaum said in a speech that was posted in Yiddish on flyers in Borough Park.

The sermon, a translation of which was provided to The Post, came in the week after the Nov. 8 wedding at a post-nuptials celebration, although Teitelbaum did not directly refer to the secret, potentially super-spreading ceremony.

The Hasidic sect remained defiant even after The Post exposed the lengths that the community went to conceal the Nov. 8 wedding of one of Teitelbaum’s grandsons, which was attended by thousands of maskless men crammed into Congregation Yetev Lev synagogue in Williamsburg.

Authorities again sought to stop a large wedding Monday in Kiryas Joel for another of Aaron Teitelbaum’s grandchildren. The nuptials went ahead despite a cease-and-desist order.

Hundreds of revelers, including Teitelbaum, attended a post-wedding celebration Tuesday in Brooklyn. Photos showed many maskless men gathered together just inside a synagogue. Teitelbaum and his entourage, none of whom wore masks, were seen in a video arriving at the event.

Guests squeezed inside the Yetev Lev temple in Williamsburg for the wedding of a chief rabbi’s grandson.
Guests squeezed inside the Yetev Lev temple in Williamsburg for the wedding of a chief rabbi’s grandson.

Teitelbaum carried out that celebration a day after Mayor de Blasio announced the city would slap the Yetev Lev synagogue with a $15,000 fine for the Nov. 8 wedding, which The Post exposed last Saturday with video of the event.

“If there were further inappropriate activity, that is the precursor to the building being shut down permanently,” de Blasio warned Tuesday. Hizzoner noted “it’s a big city” when asked why officials failed to get wind of the event.

City Hall has since refused to answer any questions about its one-day “investigation” into the wedding, including whether any coronavirus cases have been traced to it, or even which agency looked into it.

The mayor’s reps also wouldn’t say whether Pinny Ringel, the mayor’s senior liaison to the Jewish community, had any inkling about the illegal celebration.

“He’s the liaison to the Jewish community. If he didn’t know about it, he’s not doing his job,” a source in the de Blasio Administration said of the Hasidic aide.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de BlasioEd Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

The source said the administration has handled the Orthodox Jewish community “with kid gloves.”

Ringel did not return requests for comment.

Two high-ranking aides to Gov. Cuomo were flagged in a tweet about the wedding three days after it happened, but took no action.

The tweet shows a Yiddish magazine cover photo of Aaron Teitelbaum, dressed in white, flanked by his son, Mendel Teitelbaum, and grandson, Joel Teitelbaum, the groom. Hundreds of maskless attendees are seated in the background.

Richard Azzopardi, Cuomo’s senior advisor, and Melissa DeRosa, the secretary to the governor and a fixture at his coronavirus press briefings, are tagged in the tweet from Naftuli Moster, who heads YAFFED, an education advocacy group. Moster wrote: “pure madness.”

“We haven’t seen this tweet previously, though it doesn’t include any information about what the event was or where it took place. Localities are in charge of enforcement and when we learned of the event, from reading The Post, we called the city and made sure they were taking action,” Azzopardi said.

Rich Azzopardi and Melissa DeRosa
Rich Azzopardi and Melissa DeRosaTwitter; Flickr

The Hasidic voting bloc is important to both state and local politicians, some of whom had attended Satmar weddings in the past. Cuomo has held several meetings with Teitelbaum.

Celebrations, mass gatherings and yeshivas that violate the state’s COVID-19 restrictions have been an issue in the Hasidic community for months even though many members, including Teitelbaum, have fallen ill. In August, Cuomo said he would crack down on such events in Brooklyn if the city didn’t act.

In October, the state ordered a halt to a massive wedding planned in Williamsburg for a grandson of Teitelbaum’s brother, Zalman, who leads the Satmar sect in Brooklyn.

The New York City sheriff’s department went to Tuesday’s post-wedding celebration, but did not issue any violations or stop the party. Sheriff Joseph Fucito told The Post that deputies had counted 201 attendees, less than half of the building’s allowed occupancy.

Congregation Yetev Lev D'Satmar
Congregation Yetev Lev D’SatmarJ.C. Rice

State restrictions also require social distancing for all attendees, or masks. Fucito said several people claimed religious exemptions for going without masks.

The sect apparently backed down on Friday when it agreed to cancel an annual dinner set for December that is typically attended by thousands and commemorates the escape of the Satmar’s founder from a Nazi concentration camp.