N.J. police arrest two for hosting Jewish weddings despite social distancing rules
(JTA) — Police in Lakewood, New Jersey, have arrested at least two Jewish men for hosting weddings with more than 50 people present, in violation of state rules designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy last week banned gatherings of more than 50 people, and on Saturday morning he signed an executive order placing the state’s residents on lockdown. The executive order bars weddings, parties and all other events and mandates closure of all non-essential retail businesses.
More than a dozen property owners in Lakewood, home to a large haredi Orthodox Jewish community and one of the biggest yeshivas in the United States, have been ticketed for hosting oversized gatherings in recent days, according to local news reports.
Two of them, Eliyohu Zaks, 49, and Shaul Kuperwasser, 43, were arrested Friday and charged with “maintaining a nuisance” after hosting weddings of more than 50 people in their homes, according to local news reports.
“The Lakewood Police is asking that its citizens be responsible and obey the directives set forth by the State of New Jersey for the safety and health of all,” Lakewood’s police department said in a statement. “Those that choose not to will be subject to criminal prosecution.”
Meanwhile, about 50 students remained at Mesivta of Lakewood, a yeshiva high school, on Friday afternoon, several days after Murphy ordered schools across the state closed, a Lakewood police officer told NJ101.5, a radio station. The officer said the remaining students would be leaving soon.