Strictly-Orthodox Jewish weddings are still regularly held in flagrant disregard to Covid rules, according to one photographer who spoke out after news that an illegal Stamford Hill simcha for 400 guests was halted by police.
The freelance snapper, who asked not to be named, approached Jewish News after reports emerged of the illicit celebration at Stamford Hill’s Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ school.
£10,000 fines were handed out to organisers, with many of the guests fleeing the scene as police arrived.
The wedding, which has been condemned by Chief Rabbi Mirvis, the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council, is not an isolated event according to the photographer.
Writing to Jewish News, she explained that she freelances at Orthodox weddings in London and “did four or five last year and was shocked at what I saw.
“Guests had absolutely no regard for Covid restrictions. The last one I did was on 19 October and there were 300 guests, none wearing masks. I couldn’t believe it. I asked not to cover any more until rules are adhered to.”
She added: “Police were actually called to that wedding. They told everyone to disburse but an hour later about 150 had reconvened elsewhere in a different venue and the wedding continued – with the band!”
Reflecting on the Stamford Hill wedding broken up on Thursday night this week, she asked why “rabbis still ignoring the law and agreeing to perform these weddings? Why is the message not getting through?”
“I’m appalled and utterly disgusted” she said, adding that “at least two photographers I work with got Covid at these weddings”.
Following the break-up of the 400-person wedding at the school on Thursday evening, 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 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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