Some viewers might assume footage of a Hasidic wedding showing thousands of maskless people packed shoulder to shoulder inside a Brooklyn synagogue harkened back to happier times, before the onset of a global pandemic. But they'd be wrong. As the New York Post reports, the footage spreading on social media was in fact recorded inside the Yetev Lev D'Satmar synagogue in Williamsburg on Nov. 8, during the wedding of Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum's grandson, Yoel Teitelbaum. Weeks earlier, state officials had intervened to block the wedding of the grandson of Aaron Teitelbaum's brother and rival, Satmar Grand Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum, per the Post. To avoid a similar fate, organizers of the Nov. 8 wedding worked "secretly and discreetly, so as not to draw attention from strangers," the Yiddish newspaper Der Blatt reported on Nov. 13.
"All notices about upcoming celebrations were passed along through word of mouth, with no notices in writing," the paper noted. It's unclear exactly how many people attended the wedding, but footage shows people packed onto bleachers nearly reaching the ceiling of the synagogue, which has a capacity of 7,000. The city only permits religious services at 50% capacity, and it requires that people from different households keep 6 feet apart or wear masks, per the Post. Gov. Andrew Cuomo condemned the "illegal" event on Sunday, per the AP, before Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $15,000 fine on Monday. "There could be additional consequences quite soon," he told NY1's Inside City Hall, per the Post. "This was amazingly irresponsible." The Post notes the synagogue's own president died of COVID-19 last month after urging the community to abide by restrictions. (Read more New York City stories.)