4 arrested after ultra-Orthodox wedding violates coronavirus restrictions

Father of the groom, an American citizen, was meant to be in self-isolation, but attended along with some 150 participants

Illustrative: Ultra-Orthodox Israelis dance at a wedding in Beit Shemesh on March 18, 2020 (screenshot: Channel 12)
Illustrative: Ultra-Orthodox Israelis dance at a wedding in Beit Shemesh on March 18, 2020 (screenshot: Channel 12)

Police arrested four people Tuesday night following an ultra-Orthodox wedding in the city of Beit Shemesh in which at least 150 people participated, violating Health Ministry guidelines limiting the number of people at gatherings to 10 and closing event halls and restaurants.

According to reports in ultra-Orthodox media sites, the four were the father of the groom, an American citizen, who arrived in Israel from the United States and was supposed to have been in quarantine; the father of the bride; the caterer; and a resident of Jerusalem who reportedly organized the wedding.

The Hebrew-language website Behadrei Haredim reported that the father of the groom was released and will be questioned by police following completion of his 14-day quarantine period. The father of the bride was also released.

A police spokesman said that “an inquiry commenced following enforcement operations conducted by the Israel Police to assist the Health Ministry with its efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus in Israel in the wake of reports of a wedding at a synagogue in Beit Shemesh in which some 150 people participated.”

The spokesman said the detainees “violated a public health injunction and thus endangered the public.”

“Police call upon the public to keep to the specific guidelines and orders of the Health Ministry to help contain the outbreak of the coronavirus,” a statement added.

The Hebrew-language Kikar Hashabbat news portal reported that a separate Hassidic wedding with some 200 participants also took place Tuesday night in Beit Shemesh. Images of that wedding were also shown on Channel 12 television.

According to the report, the wedding was between the scions of two well-known Haredi courts, the grandson of the Chernobyl Rebbe and the daughter of the Trebishan Rebbe.

The report said that the wedding organizers had secretly moved the wedding from Ashdod to Beit Shemesh and instructed those invited not to reveal to anyone that the wedding was going ahead. Those over 60 and persons with respiratory difficulties were reportedly asked not to attend.

Sources told Kikar Hashabbat that the rabbis of the two courts had approved the wedding as “it is well known that no harm can come at a celebration of the righteous.”

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