coronavirus

NJ Couple Faces Child Endangerment Charges for Coronavirus-Defying Party

The Lakewood couple had 40 to 50 people in their yard and now face charges for each of their kids

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What to Know

  • Police charged a Lakewood couple with five counts of child endangerment -- one for each of their kids -- after breaking up an event at their home Sunday
  • Lakewood police have responded to multiple reports of unauthorized gatherings in the town since the state ordered social distancing
  • The town's large Orthodox Jewish community has faced a number of threats for holding gatherings since the lockdown began

A Lakewood couple faces child endangerment charges after police broke up a gathering of dozens of people at their home, in defiance of the state's coronavirus lockdown orders.

And just hours later, police in Lakewood had to break up another prohibited event and cite two people.

They were the latest in a handful of gatherings to be broken up in Lakewood in the last two weeks, despite Gov. Phil Murphy's orders banning such events and ordering social distancing.

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That repeated defiance has lead to multiple anti-Semitic threats against Lakewood's large Orthodox Jewish community, whose growth made the town one of the state's largest in less than a decade.

Lakewood Police and Ocean County prosecutors said Eliezer Silber, 37, and Miriam Silber, 34, held a gathering of 40 to 50 people in the yard and street in front of their home Sunday. Police dispersed the crowd and charged the Silbers with five counts of endangering the welfare of a child, one count for each of their five kids who were in the home.

“My Office will prosecute any individual who defies or breaks the law, State of Emergency or otherwise. Everyone must respect and follow the law,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said in a statement.

The Silbers were apparently holding a bat mitzvah in their home, New Jersey State Police Col. Patrick Callahan said at a news conference Monday. Since Gov. Murphy's executive order, Callahan added, police statewide have dealt with 70 compliance issues and 34 indictable offenses.

After police broke up a party in Ewing on Saturday, an outraged Murphy said the state would not hesitate to "name and shame" anyone who defied the social distancing orders -- nor would law enforcement hesitate to charge them.

The second incident took place early Monday morning in Lakewood, when police responded to a Madison Avenue facility and found 35 people at an event.

"After several unsuccessful attempts by the Officers to clear the building, the crowd was eventually dispersed," police and prosecutors said in a statement.

Building owner David Gluck and building manager Abraham Haberfeld were both charged with maintaining a nuisance.

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