What, you think your god will protect you from getting covid-19?

Reports have emerged of a wedding held in the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community of New York City where thousands of people were crammed together indoors and tried to keep this violation of safety protocols secret from the authorities.

New York City officials on Monday announced that they would fine the organizers of a Hasidic Jewish wedding that was attended by thousands of people earlier this month, calling it reckless and accusing organizers of concealing it from authorities.

The New York Times reported that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said that those who planned the wedding took active steps to ensure that the thousands of participants would not reveal news of the wedding to city authorities.

Video of the wedding that first appeared online and was obtained by the Times shows thousands of men packed closely together in a hall for the wedding, and a report of the cover-up efforts reportedly appeared in a local Hasidic newspaper.

Their efforts to keep this wedding secret do not seem to be all that well thought. Even if you are as close-knit a group as the Hasidic community, when thousands of people are involved, word will get out, especially if your very own community newspaper is willing to print it.

Religious groups think that they are entitled to live by different rules from the rest of us. In the process they are going to make sick and kill off not only their own members but others too, and put a lot of strain on an already stressed health care system.


  1. says

    Since the premise of religion is, “you, alone in the universe, are extra-special” I don’t see how it’s not consistent behavior to act as though one is extra-special. It’s the worst lie that religion tells, and this is just another story of how damaging it can be.

  2. Katydid says

    The Hasidic community in NYC absolutely believes they’re above the laws and they run their neighborhoods as if they were in Israel, not the USA.

  3. mnb0 says

    Of course they think their god will protect them. And if they get ill they’ll find a way to blame themselves for not being pious enough.

  4. anat says

    They probably believe that whether or not they die this Jewish year (whether of COVID or anything else) was determined by the end of Yom Kippur, a few weeks ago, and nothing they do now matters (though it should matter for whether or not they die during the following year, so I don’t see why they should not care at all). As for whether their god protects them -- they believe in a capricious god that decides whether or not to protect certain individuals for reasons nobody can fathom. At most, they believe some fraction of the Jewish people is bound to survive, everything else is up in the air.

  5. Allison says

    The Hasidic community in NYC absolutely believes they’re above the laws and they run their neighborhoods as if they were in Israel, not the USA

    Not Israel. 18th or 19th Century Eastern Europe.

    These communities are extremely insular. They try to live, as much as is practical, the way they did in the Shtetls prior to the World Wars. Only those from the community are trusted, and even then, it’s mostly the leader or leaders of whatever subcommunity they live in. The outside world is presumed to be hostile to them, which, to be fair, was the way it was a few centuries ago. The laws of the land have no moral authority with them, since (in the past), those laws were intended to oppress them, or at least did not take their needs into account. Instead, they follow the laws (and courts) of their community.

    No doubt they’ve heard about Covid-19, but since pretty much all they hear about it comes from the non-Hasidic world, it isn’t real to them the way their Rabbis and traditions are. NYC’s rules about gatherings come across to them as yet another case of the outside world trying to force them to abandon their customs one by one, which ultimately would result in their community ceasing to exist as a community.

    It seems to me that it would have been far more effective for NYC to engage non-confrontationally with their leaders long enough to develop enough trust that the leaders would actually listen. Once the leaders are on board, the rest of the community would follow.

    But, as has been shown by US policy at home and abroad over the past century or so, non-confrontation is seen as un-American. Instead, NYC marches in with rules and fines in the attempt to bully a community that has had centuries of experience dealing with heavy-handed regimes.

    Of course they think their god will protect them.

    They are not fundamentalist Christians and they don’t think that way.

  6. Katydid says

    @Allison, you’re speaking to someone who was born and raised in Manhattan, with family scattered throughout the five boroughs. I have aunts and uncles and cousins who live in Brooklyn, some just over the other side of the BQE from Williamsburg. They very much do feel they’re in a village and are very hostile to “foreigners” (aka other Brooklynites daring to ride the bus that goes through “their village”. When a woman or group of women ride the bus, they’ve been bullied by Hasidic men.

    The city has for the most part turned a blind eye and treated this community with kid gloves--perhaps because it’s mostly just women who are being bullied and abused.

    Where the city does speak up is in cases such as the huge measles outbreak a couple of years ago and now COVID, and the shrieks of PERSECUTION! go up, as if the state has no right to insist some of the inhabitants refrain from killing the rest of the inhabitants.

  7. mnb0 says

    @6 Alison: “They are not fundamentalist Christians and they don’t think that way.”
    Nice example of minequoting.

  8. mnb0 says

    @6 Allison: the way you depict their thinking reminds of the lyrics of Pink Floyd’s song Sheep:

    “Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away
    Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air
    You better watch out
    There may be Covid-19 about”


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