Eight people – the bridal couple, the rabbi and five of the 150 wedding guests, including the parents of the couple and the best man – were arrested on Monday afternoon when City police burst in on an orthodox Jewish wedding ceremony in the Once neighbourhood of the capital.
“On Monday eight people were arrested red-handed (en flagrancia) at a religious ceremony,” City Attorney-General Juan Bautista Mahiques told the A24 television news channel on Monday, adding that weddings with over 100 guests in the same neighbourhood on May 24 and May 20 were under investigation.
The police were alerted by videos of the latter wedding divulged by the Agencia Judía de Noticias (AJN) Jewish news agency portal, where various participants (including elderly people and small children) were neither using face-masks nor respecting the norms of social distancing, even kissing and hugging each other.
"Beyond the violations of the criminal code, these were scandalous images showing very little common sense,” affirmed Mahiques, explaining that some guests were also rumoured to have symptoms compatible with Covid-19 which might aggravate the case.
Those charged could face prison sentences ranging from a fortnight to two years.
The weddings were repudiated by other orthodox Jewish sectors, including the Bloque Unido Religioso, which currently runs the Asociación Mutual Judía Argentina (AMIA) Jewish community centre and recognises the authority of the Argentine state.
"I am informing you that the orthodox Jewish community in Argentina repudiates this action carried out by individuals in private places which did not heed the compulsory preventive social isolation,” tweeted AMIA Culture Secretary and leading Bloque figure Eliahu Hamra.
Rabbi Yosef Feigelstock, a distinguished expert in religious jurisdiction, issued a communiqué clarifying that such meetings were totally prohibited until the end of quarantine, adding: “Anybody participating in these activities should be isolated for five, not two weeks.”
The Argentine Jewish community is the largest in Latin America, numbering around 300,000 people, of whom the orthodox are a minority. Many of them are congregated in the City barrio of Once.