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Defiant Brooklyn synagogue hosts 5,000 person funeral as NYPD watched

Kaylee Greenlee. DCNF

A synagogue in Brooklyn, New York, held a large funeral on Monday after the state prohibited it from hosting a wedding in October due to COVID-19, the New York Post reported.

The funeral for former chief Satmar judge Rabbi Yisroel Chaim Menashe Friedman, 94, drew around 5,000 attendees, the Post reported. People stood close together inside the building and outside on the sidewalk and few were reportedly wearing masks.

“Normally, we would avoid having such a crowd unless it was for something very, very important. This was one of those times,” an attendee named Lipa said, the Post reported.

Another man attending the funeral said he believes that the community is immune to COVID-19 because most everyone has already had it, the Post reported.

“Ask anybody here if they had COVID. They’ll say yes — and they won’t be lying,’’ the man said, the Post reported. “People from the outside, they don’t understand that. We’ve all had it.”

Five New York Police Department officers reportedly watched the gathering from nearby, according to the Post.

“This man was a giant,’’ Lipa said about Friedman, the Post reported. “He was there from the beginning, when the community was rebuilding after the war. A very, very holy man. For someone like him, you couldn’t keep people from coming even if you wanted to.”

A crowd of males was reportedly seen not wearing face coverings or practicing social distancing, according to the Post. An official made face coverings available to the crowd, though hardly anyone inside wore one.

The Grand Rabbi who oversaw Friedman’s funeral, Zalman Leib Teitelbaum’s grandchild was supposed to be married at the synagogue last October, the Post reported. The ceremony was expected to draw around 10,000 attendees, causing Democratic Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo to issue a state order against the gathering.

Indoor religious services are only allowed at 33% capacity, according to the New York State website. The synagogue’s maximum occupancy, without applying COVID-19 restrictions, is 1,600 people, according to the New York City Department of Buildings.

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