Bride, groom and rabbi arrested at Buenos Aires wedding
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Bride, groom and rabbi arrested at Buenos Aires wedding

Gathering violated Argentina’s social distancing restrictions; event condemned by Jewish groups

Guests at a Jewish wedding in Buenos Aires, May 25, violated coronavirus restrictions, leading to arrests (Screen capture: Twitter)
Guests at a Jewish wedding in Buenos Aires, May 25, violated coronavirus restrictions, leading to arrests (Screen capture: Twitter)

The bride and groom, along with their officiating rabbi, were among eight people arrested by Buenos Aires police for gathering at a wedding and violating the public coronavirus lockdown that bans public and religious events.

It was the third Jewish wedding in less than a week in the Balvanera area of the city, which is home to a large Orthodox population, that skirted the regulations. (It’s also nicknamed Once for its proximity to the large Once de Septiembre train station.)

The first wedding took place on May 20 with some 150 participants. The second, on Sunday, prompted some neighbors to call authorities but no police action was taken.

But authorities were alerted about the third ceremony and police raided the building on private property. The incident was covered on Argentine TV channels.

Some 150 people attended the third wedding, according to the Buenos Aires Times.

“On Monday eight people were arrested conducting a flagrant violation at a religious ceremony,” City Attorney-General Juan Bautista Mahiques told the A24 television news channel. Mahiques said the other two weddings were also being investigated.

“Beyond the violations of the criminal code, these were scandalous images showing very little common sense,” Mahiques said according to the Buenos Aires Times

The paper said that the violations of coronavirus restrictions had been condemned by other Jewish groups, including the Bloque Unido Religioso.

“I am informing you that the orthodox Jewish community in Argentina repudiates this action,” tweeted Eliahu Hamra, the head of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Argentina. The country has the largest Jewish community in South America, some 300,000 people.

A source close to the Jewish community said the largest of the weddings involved people from the Shuba Israel congregation, which has lost at least two members to COVID-19, brothers Roberto and Gabril Yabra. Roberto’s wife Teresa, 79, was also hospitalized with the virus but has since recovered.

The AMIA Jewish organization, the Buenos Aires-based Latin American Rabbinical Seminary and the local chapter of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement all condemned the weddings.

“Participating in these weddings or meetings is prohibited, and if a person has already been in one of these activities, they must be isolated from our community for at least 35 days and must quarantine at home,” the Chabad chapter said in a statement.

This wasn’t the first run-in with police that Buenos Aires Jews have had during the lockdown. A rabbi and two others were detained for operating a mikveh, or ritual bath.

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