(April 24, 2020 / JNS) A plan to allow small weddings at a venue in the ultra-Orthodox community of Lakewood, N.J., that would adhere to social distancing orders during the coronavirus pandemic has been scrapped, according to the mayor and a group of Jewish religious leaders.
The arrangement allowed for small weddings at Ateres Reva, a catering hall attached to a school, and was approved by “the authorities charged with COVID-19 enforcement,” claimed a letter attributed to Rabbi Aaron Kotler of the local yeshivah Beth Medrash Govoha.
However, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said in an email that “no wedding venues have been authorized or approved by my office” for Lakewood or other municipalities.
The office of Lakewood Mayor Raymond Coles also never approved the arrangement, according to local reports, with Coles noting that such decisions need to be made by county and state officials.
Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, a spokesperson for the Lakewood Vaad, a group of local religious leaders, told New Jersey’s radio station 101.5 that the plan is “suspended for now.”
At his daily briefing on Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy slammed the plan and get-togethers of any kind right now, saying, “Listen, I want to gather as much as the next guy, but we can’t allow that to happen.”
According to Billhimer, a wedding in compliance with coronavirus restrictions would include less than 10 people, including the bride, groom and person performing the service. Others would have to keep their distance and wear masks.
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