Lakewood Leaders at Odds with Attorney General, Prosecutor Over COVID-19 Makeshift Weddings

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LAKEWOOD, NJ – This week, Rabbi Aaron Kotler sent out an email with guidelines for brides and grooms who had scheduled weddings in the town on how to proceed with the wedding and adhere to Governor Phil Murphy’s social distancing guidelines.

As we shared in our previous update, we were working on a way for our Kehilla to hold Covid-19compliant Chasunos. We are pleased that the authorities charged with Covid-19 enforcement have approved a model and venue for weddings that is 100% compliant with the State of NJsocial distancing regulations,” Kotler wrote. “The venue will be available starting this Sunday and will initially run through to Rosh Chodeshand will then resume from Lag B’Omer.”

“The approved location is at Ateres Reva and access to the
 site will be restricted by law enforcement. Chasunos will be permitted, beginning with a very small Covid-19 regulations compliant religious ceremony, followed by a COVID-19 compliant dinner, with a 1 man band, fresh florist, catered compliant Seuda for parents and immediate siblings, photographer and video,” Kotler continued.  “There will be limited ability for relatives/ friends to wish MazelTov from their cars after the Seuda. That car entry will be via placards given at the gate of Ateres Reva that will allow access to the parking lot.”

Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles assured the public that he had the green light from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office on the new wedding system.

“The Lakewood police department conferred with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office to make sure there were no problems with this,” Coles said. “The purpose is to make sure any events that happen are done in accordance with all of the governor’s guidelines.”

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“Wedding venues are non-essential. So to be clear, no wedding venues have been authorized by my office,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said in an email to the Star Ledger. “A marriage ceremony itself is not an issue, as long as it comports with the requirements of all of the (executive orders) and (administrative orders). Less than 10 people total, social distancing and wearing masks.”

“The Governor’s Executive Orders and related Administrative Orders concerning gatherings and social distancing remain in full effect and are the most effective tools we have to protect the health of New Jerseyans during this pandemic. As Attorney General Grewal and Colonel Callahan make clear every day in their daily enforcement updates, New Jersey law enforcement will hold those who flout these orders accountable,” said spokesperson Leland Moore of the Attorney General’s office.

Typically, in the ever-growing city of Lakewood, weddings are a commonplace every night of the week, but according to Lakewood Township, the registrar’s office is not approving any marriage licenses during the COVID-19 epidemic.  It looks like those weddings, like most everything else in life will have to wait until Governor Phil Murphy gives the green light on life returning to normal after COVID-19.