NY state tells Orthodox Jewish community it can't celebrate weddings without social distancing, masks

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New York state authorities have indicated that they will intervene if members of a Hasidic Jewish community hold weddings and corresponding receptions and refuse to abide by coronavirus-related protocols.

The department confirmed to Fox News on Monday that it had issued cancellation orders to the Congregation Yetev Lev D’Satmar of Kiryas Joel in Orange County, New York, for the events scheduled in the evening.

"In the event that the ceremonies are not canceled, the order requires that social distancing and face covering protocols be enforced," Jill Montag, a New York Department of Health spokesperson, told Fox News. "With respect to the two receptions, it requires that they be limited to 50 people or canceled."

 The Daily Beast reported that the scene outside of the Orange County synagogue indicated that the community was proceeding with the wedding.

“A steady flow of bearded, black-hatted people going in and out of the enormous synagogue were all unmasked … Around the back, several workers were bringing pallets of bottled water into the space, along with stacks of banquet chairs and assorted staging materials, according to the Daily Beast. "A number of rolling metal racks for holding food trays sat nearby. By shortly after 5 p.m., the parking lot was full.”

A carpentry contractor told the Daily Beast no one inside was wearing a mask.

The event came amid a broader uproar surrounding New York's attempt to enforce coronavirus guidelines on the Jewish community. On Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted a Brooklyn synagogue's reported decision to hold a secret wedding amid growing cases in the state.

The New York Post reported that guests, mostly unmasked, crammed inside the Yetev Lev temple in Williamsburg for the Nov. 8 wedding of Yoel Teitelbaum, a grandson of Satmar Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, in violation of coronavirus restrictions that ban large indoor gatherings. The synagogue has a capacity of 7,000 people.

"If that happened it was a blatant disregard of the law, it's illegal, it was also disrespectful to the people of New York," Cuomo said, adding that the city should conduct an investigation.

A spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said his office was investigating the issue, according to the Associated Press.

“The city is conducting an investigation into the incident and will hold those accountable to the fullest extent of the law," spokesperson Avery Cohen said.

First Liberty, a non-profit which has fought coronavirus restrictions in different parts of the country, argued that the Jewish community faced tyrannical orders in the state.

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“From the start of the pandemic, Governor Cuomo has targeted the Orthodox Jewish community with both his rhetoric and tyrannical orders limiting their religious freedom,” said Justin Butterfield, Deputy General Counsel at First Liberty Institute.  “Just last week, First Liberty filed a brief at the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Jewish community against Governor Cuomo’s continuing hostility toward their freedom to worship. Unfortunately, Governor Cuomo must repeatedly be reminded that the Constitution and First Amendment still exist.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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