Under fire for largely ignoring New York coronavirus restrictions, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect that organized an illegal wedding in Brooklyn said Friday it is canceling its yearly celebration that commemorates the escape of a key religious leader from a Nazi death camp.
The cancellation of the annual Chof Aleph Kislev event comes just days after the Satmar faction was roundly criticized for organizing the clandestine nuptials for the grandson of Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, which brought thousands of maskless revelers to a South Williamsburg synagogue.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety measures in place to stave off the rising number of cases, the leaders of the Satmar community made the difficult decision to cancel the celebratory dinner that sees thousands of Chassidim in attendance each year,” said organizers in an English-language statement released in the name of Satmar Board chairman, Chesky Berkowitz.
“The Satmar community is grateful to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio and all frontline workers for their tireless efforts in combating the terrible effects of the pandemic,” the statement adds. “They remain in the hearts and prayers of all its Chassidic constituents.”
Organizers wrote in a Hebrew flyer obtained by The Post that the bash — which had been set for nightfall on Dec. 6 — will not take place, but it asked that members of the community still “respond generously” when solicited for donations. It adds that organizers plan to bring back the dinner celebration after coronavirus pandemic restrictions are lifted.
The flyer was put out by the Central United Talmudical Academy, which is controlled by followers of Aaron Teitelbaum.
In any other year, thousands would pack into a Brooklyn armory to celebrate Chof Aleph Kislev, which marks the day that former Grand Rabbi Joel Teitlebaum escaped from the Nazis at Bergen Belsen in 1944.
Teitlebaum passed away in 1979 and was succeeded by Moshe Teitelbaum, who died in 2006. Two of his sons, Aaron and Zalman, both claim to be the Satmar heir, creating a divide that has split the insular but politically powerful community.
Officials have struggled for months to enforce mask and social distancing mandates in New York’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, which have been hard-hit by COVID-19.
The November wedding, which exploded into public view after an exposé in Sunday’s Post, was just the latest high-profile violation of emergency pandemic restrictions.
Yeshivas defied shutdown orders during the initial spring lockdown meant to contain the virus, local lawmakers cut the locks off of closed city parks and some businesses illegally reopened, attempting to obscure their operations by covering their windows with butcher paper.
Officials faced renewed resistance as they attempted to battle back against a coronavirus outbreak in southern Brooklyn in September.
One press conference was interrupted by City Council wannabe and local gadfly Heshy Tischler, who called the head of the city’s public hospital system, Mitch Katz, a “filthy animal” and described Health Department employees as “Nazi stormtroopers.”
Tischler was eventually arrested for leading violent protests against state-ordered coronavirus restrictions in Southern Brooklyn, which targeted reporters and photographers — including local scribe Jacob Kornbluh.
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