Chief Rabbi slams wedding at Charedi school as ‘shameful desecration’

Hackney Council is calling on the school to investigate


The Chief Rabbi has strongly condemned a 400-strong wedding that took place at a Charedi girls’ school in Hackney last night.  

“This is a most shameful desecration of all that we hold dear,” Rabbi Mirvis wrote on Twitter about the event at Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School, which was broken up by police.

“At a time when we are all making such great sacrifices, it amounts to a brazen abrogation of the responsibility to protect life and such illegal behaviour is abhorred by the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community,” he added.

Hackney Council is calling on the school - whose principal Rabbi Avrohom Pinter died from coronavirus last April -  to investigate. 

A spokesman for the state-aided Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School said that it had no knowledge of the event, which was organised by a third party, and was horrified. 

The council said it would be speaking to the school’s chairman of governors on Friday and would ensure that the school held an investigation into the incident. 

A spokesman for Yesodey Hatorah said,  “We are absolutely horrified about last night’s event and condemn it in the strongest possible terms.  We lease our hall to an external organisation which manages all lettings and, as such, we had no knowledge that the wedding was taking place.  We have terminated the agreement with immediate effect.” 

He added, “We are investigating how this shocking breach has happened and have no plans to re-lease the premises to any third party. We deplore the actions of anyone in any community breaking the law and risking people’s lives in this way.” 

In a statement, the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations said, “We are shocked and deeply saddened by last night’s events which are shameful for our community.  There are no excuses for anyone to endanger the community and the wider public in such a careless manner.  

“We will continue to work with the police and the community and we reiterate the importance everyone has to play in order to protect the NHS and save lives.” 

Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville said he was “deeply disappointed that events of this nature are still happening in Hackney and Stamford Hill, despite the very grave pandemic situation we find ourselves in, and the number of lives that have already been lost in the Charedi community and across the borough.  

“Last night’s event was illegal and we support the police in taking such rapid and firm action. We had already written to venues including Yesodey Hatorah School reminding them of the regulations and are shocked that they are continuing to breach them.” 

The council would be meeting with the local rabbinate and other Jewish organisations in coming days in order to “prevent further incidents of this nature.” 

Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl condemned “this flagrant and disgraceful breach of Covid-19 regulations, which goes against Jewish teaching that preserving life is of the highest value.” 

She added that “the reckless and dangerous behaviour of those behind this event does not represent the attitude of the vast majority of British Jews, including from within the strictly-Orthodox community, who are fully aware of the terrible toll of this pandemic.” 

The organisers of the wedding now face a £10,000 fine. Five other fixed penalty notices of £200 were issued. 

The organiser of what police called “a large party” at a synagogue in Hackney last Saturday is also facing a £10,000 fine. 


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