Two NJ couples charged with child endangerment over coronavirus gatherings

'My Office will prosecute any individual who defies or breaks the law, State of Emergency or otherwise. Everyone must respect and follow the law.'

An Orthodox woman pushes a stroller in Lakewood, N.J. in 2013. The population in the largely haredi Orthodox town has boomed in the past couple of decades, and haredi families are looking to move to neighboring towns (photo credit: DENNIS FRAEVICH/FLICKR VIA JTA)
An Orthodox woman pushes a stroller in Lakewood, N.J. in 2013. The population in the largely haredi Orthodox town has boomed in the past couple of decades, and haredi families are looking to move to neighboring towns
(photo credit: DENNIS FRAEVICH/FLICKR VIA JTA)
Two couples from Lakewood, New Jersey were charged with multiple counts of child endangerment after holding two separate gatherings in the past few days.
On Sunday, Lakewood Township Police were called to a residence after a gathering of people was reported blocking the street. Officers found about 40-50 people, including children, gathered on the front lawn and street of a residence, in violation of Executive Order No. 107 signed by Governor Phil Murphy which bans gatherings of individuals.
The owners of the residence, Eliezer Silber was charged with Violating Any Rule or Regulation Adopted by the Governor and the endangerment of his five children. Miriam, his wife, was also charged with Endangering the Welfare of the five children.
New Jersey State Police Col. Patrick Callahan said that the Silbers were apparently holding a bat mitzvah celebration at their home, according to Philadelphia NBC.
"As I have previously stated, it is my sworn duty to protect all of the residents of Ocean County. That obligation applies across the board,” stated Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer in a post on the prosecutor's office's Facebook page. “My Office will prosecute any individual who defies or breaks the law, State of Emergency or otherwise. Everyone must respect and follow the law."
In a separate incident on Tuesday, Lakewood Township Police were called to the scene of a social gathering and found a group of individuals, including children, on the front lawn and in the residence attending an engagement party, again in violation of Executive Order No. 107.
Yaakov and Eti Kaufman, the owners of the residence were charged with Violating Any Rule or Regulation Adopted by the Governor During a State of Emergency and six counts of Child Endangerment, one for each of their six minor children who were at the gathering.
Joshua Lichtenstein, Brocha Lichtenstein, Tzipora Wolfe, Shmuel Kaufman, Syril Lichtenstein, Samuel Wolfe, Michael Zimmerman and Ruky Zimmerman, all from Lakewood, were also charged with Violating Any Rule or Regulation Adopted by the Governor During a State of Emergency.
Governor Murphy expressed outrage at the continuation of social gatherings and events amid the coronavirus outbreak on Saturday, tweeting "NO CORONA PARTIES. They’re illegal, dangerous, and stupid. We will crash your party. You will pay a big fine. And we will name & shame you until EVERYONE gets this message into their heads."
On Friday, a New Jersey man was charged with making terroristic threats during a state of emergency after he sent Facebook messages to Murphy and others threatening to harm Orthodox Jews for violating state coronavirus restrictions.
Last week, Murphy ordered New Jersey residents to stay home, banned all gatherings and told nonessential businesses to close and called on all residents to practice social distancing if they needed to go out.
Marcy Oster/JTA contributed to this report.


Tags New Jersey