Thousands of Chasids break rules to gather for Belz wedding in Jerusalem

Police fined the organisers of the dynastic wedding; videos showed large numbers without masks


Thousands reportedly attended the wedding of the grandson of a Chasidic leader in Jerusalem on Wednesday, despite Israel’s coronavirus restrictions strictly prohibiting such a large gathering.

Attendees had been invited by the leader of the Belz dynasty, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, who stated that he valued the ‘spiritual wellbeing’ of his congregation over the government’s restrictions.  

Videos from the wedding show thousands – mostly unmasked – gathering at what appears to be an open air structure, although there were conflicting reports as to whether the event was held indoors or outdoors.

Israeli government restrictions limit the number of people that can gather indoors to ten, and outdoors to 20.

Israeli police handed down a NIS 5,000 fine to the organisers of the event, and opened an investigation into violations of licensing laws at the venue.

It was also reported that organisers had been concerned that Israeli police would break up the event, and had sought to stop those present from taking photos or bringing cameras into the venue by threatening reprisals against those who did not follow their guidance and searching those attending.

Rabbi Rokeach, who is often considered the second-most important Chasidic leader in Israel, is among the few senior Orthodox leaders to have largely ignored coronavirus restrictions, and also hosted a large gathering at Passover.  

Rabbi Rokeach is a senior member of the Council of Torah Sages of the Agudat Yisrael faction of United Torah Judaism, a strictly Orthodox party that is a partner in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition.

In 2013, an estimated 25,000 attended a wedding to another grandson, Shalom.

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