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.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.