'There's No Doubt Police Knew': Hundreds Attend Hasidic Wedding in Central Israel

Thousands were initially invited, but leaders of the Sanz and Toldos Aharon sects ordered to to scale the event down due to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown

Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz
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Screenshot from a live broadcast of the Hasidic wedding in Netanya, central Israel, January 27, 2021.
Screenshot from a live broadcast of the Hasidic wedding in Netanya, central Israel, January 27, 2021.Credit: SB Productions
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

Hundreds of people attended on a Hasidic wedding held on Wednesday in the central city of Netanya. Police did not send officers to enforce coronavirus regulations barring mass events.

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The wedding, organized by the Sanz and Toldos Aharon Hasidic sects, was initially planned to be attended by thousands of people, but their leaders decided over the past weeks to scale it down due to Israel’s nationwide lockdown. 400 people were invited to the event, but several hundred more joined it.

“The music was very loud, hundreds of people were there, and there is no doubt police knew about it before,” a man from one the sects told Haaretz.

Images from the wedding in Netanya, January 27, 2021.Credit: Israel Frey

Police said in a Thursday statement they opened an investigation into suspected violation of coronavirus regulations, adding that two of the organizers were detained and are suspected of committing "an act that might spread a disease."

About a thousand people participated on Saturday in the aufruf, or Shabbat Chatan, celebration that preceded the wedding. According to the same man, police knew about that event, too, but did not send any forces to enforce the ban on gatherings.

This follows multiple mass events held over the past months in the ultra-Orthodox community, particularly by Hasidic sects, with little to no enforcement. Dozens of mass wedding are held daily, and while the Lithuanian and Sephardi ultra-Orthodox communities usually hold smaller events, many Hasidic sects refrain from reducing them in size regardless of infection rates or government orders.

Last week, the police broke up a wedding with about 300 guests in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak, organized by the Dorog Hasidic sect.

When forces arrived at the scene, some of the wedding attendees cursed them. Police handed out 5,000 shekel fines to people with a role in the event, and the organizers were brought in for a criminal investigation on suspicion of spreading the disease.

Over the past week, several Israeli cities saw major clashes between police and ultra-Orthodox groups over enforcement of Israel’s lockdown, particularly after forces shut down schools that were open against regulations.