The school which hosted an illegal 400-person wedding on its Stamford Hill premises has distanced itself from the event, calling it “shocking”.
Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School said it is “absolutely horrified” after police were forced to break up the gathering on Thursday evening, with organisers facing a £10,000 fine.
In a statement to Jewish News, the school said it “condemned 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.
“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.”
Police reported that the group had gathered at school with the building’s windows covered to stop people seeing inside. As they tried to break up the gathering, guests reportedly fled.
The organiser of the event will be reported for consideration of a £10,000 fine while five other attendees were issued with £200 fixed penalty notices.
This comes amid soaring cases of coronavirus with almost 95,000 deaths across the country since the start of the pandemic. During the third national lockdown, gatherings such as weddings have been banned.
740 members of the Jewish community have died with coronavirus cited on their death certificate since the start of the pandemic.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis reacted to the reports, saying it is “a most shameful desecration of all that we hold dear. At a time when we are all making such great sacrifices, it amounts to a brazen abrogation of the responsibility to protect life & such illegal behaviour is abhorred by the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community.”
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said she was “horrified” by reports and “we unreservedly condemn this flagrant and disgraceful breach.. which goes against Jewish teaching that preserving life is of the highest value.
“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.
“We urge all members of the Jewish community, most of whom have faithfully kept to the Government’s advice on this matter, to continue to do so. These rulebreakers do not represent us.”
The Jewish Leadership Council condemned it, saying it “is a disgrace and shames us all”, adding that “this behaviour from a minority must be condemned”.
Detective Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett, Central East BCU Commander, said: “This was a completely unacceptable breach of the law”, adding that his officers “will not hesitate to take enforcement action if that is required to keep people safe.”
Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, said he was “deeply disappointed” it took place, adding that the council had “already written to venues including this school reminding them of the regulations and are shocked that they are continuing to breach them”.
“We will be meeting with the Rabbinate and our community partners over the coming days to see how we can prevent further incidents of this nature.”
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