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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘American Atheists’

Modern-Day Miracle? Williamsburg Anti-Religion Billboard Doesn’t Hang on Purim

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

The installment of a controversial anti-religion billboard in heavily Jewish Williamsburg, Brooklyn did not take place as planned Tuesday.

The Brooklyn Paper reported that a “Southside loft owner refused to allow a billboard questioning Judaism to be installed atop his S. Fifth Street building” at the last minute, by refusing entrance to workers from the advertising company.

American Atheists, the national organization that is sponsoring the campaign of billboards telling Jews and Muslims “You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” announced its plans to install the sign last Friday. The billboards have sparked uproar in the Jewish community in Williamsburg not only for their content but also because they use the the Hebrew word for the Tetragrammaton, as it is sacred and may not be erased in print.

David Silverman, president of American Atheists, cited a cabal of ‘powerful neighborhood rabbis’ as responsible for the decision: “The Jews have stopped the billboard. It’s really ugly bigotry. As a former Jew, it’s repugnant to see Jews act like this.”

When asked why he had a change of heart, Landlord Kenny Stier told the Brooklyn Paper that he simply didn’t “want to get involved in this.”

Local Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) was unsympathetic to the Atheist organization, saying that the billboard was “disrespectful” and did “not appear to be a genuine attempt to engage in a dialogue, but is here merely to insult the beliefs of this community.”

Clear Channel, the company tasked with installing the billboards, said that the they would be unveiled on Thursday at another site, not far from the originally-intended site.

There is no word on whether the organization will move forward with their plans to erect the Arabic-language version billboard near the Islamic center in heavily Muslim Paterson, New Jersey.

Maybe, on this the eve of Purim, we can chalk this victory up to the unseen hand of God…

Atheists Target Religious Jews in Williamsburg

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

A national organization calling itself American Atheists is planning to unveil its anti-religious billboards Monday in heavily Muslim Paterson, NJ and in heavily Jewish Williamsburg, Brooklyn, according to CNN.

“You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” the billboards declare, in Patterson in English and Arabic, and in Brooklyn in English and Hebrew. Next to the text on the Arabic billboard is the word Allah, and on the Hebrew sign is the Hebrew word for the Tetragrammaton, which Jews are not permitted to pronounce.

Including the “Shem ham’forash” in the Hebrew billboard is particularly provocative, since it is sacred and so may not be erased in print, presenting protesters with a dilemma.

According to Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, the motive behind the signs is purely humanitarian, as they are intended to reach atheists in the Muslim and Jewish communities who may feel isolated because they are surrounded by believers.

“Those communities are designed to keep atheists in the ranks,” he says. “If there are atheists in those communities, we are reaching out to them. We are letting them know that we see them, we acknowledge them and they don’t have to live that way if they don’t want to.”

The effort to discourage faith in these two devoted, monotheistic communities, receives a special meaning because it is being launched on the week of Purim, a celebration of the Jewish victory over Amalek. In Jewish sources, the function of Amalek in Jewish history is to encourage doubt in the heart of faithful Jews.

The late Christopher Hitchens depicted well the despair that has been driving atheist activists in the face of threats to their lack of faith (Atheists and agnostics make up only between 3% and 4% of the U.S. population): “Our theocratic enemy is in plain view. Protean in form, it extends from the overt menace of nuclear-armed mullahs to the insidious campaigns to have stultifying pseudo-science taught in American schools.”

But while Christian and, to a lesser extent, Muslims have been entangled in a conflict over the separation of Church and State in America, Jewish institutions have largely been staying out of those battles, and the Hasidic Jews of Williamsburg have certainly not been involved in pushing a national agenda of any kind. Posting an intrusive and insulting billboard in the midst of their neighborhood is nothing short of an unprovoked attack.

And knowing the mettle of the Hasidim of Williamsburg, they are sure to come up with a proper response.

Silverman told CNN the signs advertise the American Atheists’ upcoming convention and an atheist rally, called the Reason Rally, in Washington next month.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/atheists-target-religious-jews-in-williamsburg/2012/03/04/

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