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Orthodox Jewish rabbi who urged others in Brooklyn to respect lockdown rules dies of COVID-19


An Orthodox Jewish rabbi who urged others in his Brooklyn community to respect the coronavirus lockdowns died on Friday from COVID-19, at the age of 70.

Rabbi Mayer Rispler, who had his own accountancy firm, was a leading figure among the Orthodox sector of Williamsburg and served as president of the Satmar Kehillah. 

He fell ill in late September and his death was announced on Friday – the same day his funeral was held, in Williamsburg. 

His death came on the same day that sheriffs in New York City ordered the cancellation of a 10,000-person wedding, due to be held on Monday in Williamsburg.

The wedding ceremony was for a relative of Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, a grand rabbi of the Satmar sect.

Rispler was president of the Satmar Kehillah, which was under Teitelbaum’s leadership. 

The wedding will now be family-only, instead of the 10,000-person gathering. 

Rabbi Mayer Rispler, 70, died on Friday from COVID-19 after several weeks on a ventilator

Members of the Orthodox community protest COVID restrictions in Borough Park October 7

Rispler was a well known philanthropist, Yeshiva World reported.

He paid for a summer school, the Ichud Bungalow Colony, in Monticello, upstate New York, and paid for the Williamsburg girls school Binyan Rispler. 

He supported New York City’s handling of the pandemic in April, after a large funeral for a rabbi who died of COVID-19 angered Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York.

‘Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic,’ de Blasio tweeted. 

‘When I heard, I went there myself to ensure the crowd was dispersed. And what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus.

‘My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.’

Restrictions on large-scale gatherings have angered some in the Orthodox areas of Brooklyn

A spike in infections in Brooklyn saw Bill de Blasio and Andrew Cuomo order shutdowns

Some in the Orthodox community were angered by de Blasio’s tweet, accusing him of risking a surge in anti-Semitism just months after a spate of violent attacks on Jews in the city. 

Rispler defended the mayor and called for compliance with government health regulations.

‘We do not condone any behavior that puts people at risk and pledge to keep working alongside the brave men and women of the NYPD in addressing and eliminating any such occurrences,’ Rispler wrote at the time. 

Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, criticized the planned Monday wedding in a press conference on Saturday, saying the event was the exact example of what not to do during a global pandemic.

‘Look, you can get married. You just can’t have 10,000 people at your wedding,’ said Cuomo. 

‘You get the same result at the end of the day.’   

Cuomo’s special counsel Elizabeth Garvey said the celebrants can request a hearing on the order with the state Health Department.  

Teitelbaum is a prominent figure in the Orthodox community, leading the Satmar sect in Williamsburg.

He is the rabbi for the Satmar Shal synagogue and also oversees around 10 other smaller synagogues in the area.

Pictures from the wedding of another granddaughter – Miryam Teitelbaum – in Beit Shemesh, Israel, in 2013 show thousands attended the nuptials

The rabbi’s prominence means thousands often attend weddings for his family members 

His prominence means that previous weddings for his family have drawn in thousands of attendees. 

A wedding for one of the grand rabbi’s other granddaughters in Williamsburg in 2014 saw local politicians join in the celebrations, including state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Pictures from the wedding of another granddaughter – Miryam Teitelbaum – in Beit Shemesh, Israel, in 2013 show thousands attended the nuptials. 

Teitelbaum’s brother Aaron – who is thought to have been ill with COVID-19 in March – heads up the Satmar sect in the Kiryas Joel enclave in Orange County. 

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