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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Modesty’

NYC Drops Suit against Hasidic Stores over Dress Code

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

New York City has dropped a lawsuit against Hasidic-owned stores that posted a dress code for shoppers.

The New York City Human Rights Commission reached a settlement with the seven Hasidic-owned shops in a lawsuit the city had filed alleging that the stores’ posted dress codes implied gender and religious discrimination, according to the New York Daily News.

On Tuesday, the day before a trial was to begin, the city dropped the fines it had proposed, and the shop owners agreed that any future signs requesting modest attire would indicate that all people are welcome.

Attorneys for the stores, located in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, argued that the modesty codes are no different than dress codes in upscale establishments.

LA Jews Convince Firm to Remove Sexually Suggestive Billboard

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Orthodox Jews in Los Angeles have convinced a company to take down a billboard that showed a mostly naked woman promoting an energy drink, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal reported Monday.

A message on a local email stated, “The largest Orthodox Jewish community on the West Coast was horrified to see a completely inappropriate pretzus [sexually improper] photograph posted across a billboard in the center of the Jewish community.”

The ad posted by Wagner Communications promoted the XO energy drink. Yehuda Neurollah, the assistant rabbi of the mostly Sephardic Orthodox Beit Aaron outreach organization told the Journal, “It’s not a model for what we want our kids to see.”

He said that Wagner removed the billboard the day after a complaint was filed. “They were very, very good about it,” Neurollah said. “The Jewish community is very grateful to them.”

He now is considering trying to remove other billboards, such as on advertising the movie “We’re the Millers” and showing which shows four people, with the labels of “Stripper, Virgin, Runaway, and Drug Dealer,” terms that Nourallah said prompted his child and a friend to asked what they mean.

Rabbis and Secular Jews in Petition War over Jerusalem Area Mall

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Ten rabbis have signed a petition to boycott a mall in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot because of “issues of modesty” while secular residents are organizing a demonstration in support of the shopping mall.

The petition alleges that Haredi rabbis in the Ramot area struck an agreement with the mall developers on rules concerning modesty, according to the Globes business website.

The rabbis charge that the mall owners have gone beyond the agreement on the assumption that the Haredi community in Ramot has not alternative but to use the mall for immediate necessities.

The rabbis urge a total boycott of the mall except for the pharmacy and bank.

The Jerusalem party in the municipality’s city council said it will hold a pro-mall rally on Friday.

Photoshopping Women Out of the Holocaust

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Today is Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. My parents were both Holocaust survivors. If my father were alive today he would be 109 years old. My mother would be 99. My two brothers who were in the early teens when they were freed from their bunkers are today in their mid 80s.

The fact is that the survivor population is aging. Many survivors are now gone having lived to ripe old ages. Some have retained their faith and some have not. Most have renewed their lives; had families and seen much nachas from the children, grandchildren and great grand-children. They have seen the birth of a Jewish State, a rebirth of Judaism, and an unprecedented growth of Torah observance.

But the memory of what happened to them and their loved ones who did not survive stays with them. How can it not? We need to recognize that. This was once again pointed out by Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel who this morning was interviewed on CBS’s Sunday morning news show in a Holocaust memorial segment.

When he was asked to describe his experiences, he said it is not possible. He said that there were no words in any language that could describe the pure evil of what Nazi Germany did. The Nazis managed to perpetrate acts that were so evil that they were beyond human description. How, he asked, does one describe what it’s like to stand naked in a line on your way to be murdered (along with everyone else in that line) in a gas chamber disguised as a shower?

I think he is right. Yes, there are genocides taking place in the word even to this day in some uncivilized societies. But never like the systematic and scientific murder machine that was Nazi Germany. They saw murdering Jews as an ideal to be worshipped. Hitler considered it his “sacred” duty to annihilate the Jewish people.

I know that the religious right objects to observing a memorial to the Holocaust during the month of Nissan in the Jewish calendar. We are not allowed to eulogize the dead during this month. But this has never stopped even the most right wing rabbis from doing so at a funeral that takes place during Nissan. They simply say something like – since we may not make Hespedim (eulogies) during Nissan they will just say a few words of praise about him – and then dive right into an elaborate eulogy.

But I understand their objection to making an official day of remembrance during this month. I wish it were not on that day but at a date where eulogies are permitted. But it isn’t. Unfortunately their anti-Zionist rhetoric has spilled into Holocaust Remembrance day even if they have not said anything specific publicly about it. A lot of disrespect of that day persists – some of it public. And that is a Hilul HaShem.

It is also disrespectful to edit out women from photos from that era as was recently done. While I don’t approve of the practice of editing out pictures of tzanua (modestly dressed) women under any circumstances, I understand that there are some members of the right wing – mostly Hasidim – who feel that any picture of a woman is not appropriate for men to look at.

Much as I disagree with them, they are entitled to their opinion. But there are times when it should be inappropriate even for them. Such as the time the Secretary of State was photo-shopped out of a widely distributed “iconic” picture of the President and members of his administration watching the “Navy Seal Team’ assassination of Bin Laden as it was happening.

However, when it comes to tampering with Holocaust images it should cross every line of human decency. There is no way to justify that. The picture in question has blurred out the images of women in a famous photo. How in heaven’s name can anyone claim that viewing the women in that picture is in any way inappropriate?!

It is an insult to them memories of all 6 million Jews to decide that because a victim in such a photo is a woman it should be somehow blurred out of it. The reason for eliminating photos of women is so that there won’t even be the remotest chance of their eliciting an improper though on the part of a man. In this photo? Are they kidding?!

This is what happens when you stop thinking and see everything in linear fashion. They say that a photo of a woman is always a possible source of indecent thoughts in men. No difference here. If they don’t hadn’t shown this picture at all, that would have been one thing. But they obviously felt it was important enough to publish it as part of their message. But the message they sent was not one of the horrors of the Holocaust. It was how ridiculously far their views about showing a woman in a photo goes.

I truly do not understand how anyone can be an adherent of a movement that thinks like this, no matter how warm and fuzzy it otherwise is.

I am not one to make a religion of the Holocaust. Unfortunately there are some people who do. The Jewish people are not defined by the Holocaust. We are defined by God’s mandate for us as expressed through written and oral Torah law. Even so, God forbid that we minimize what happened by using it to promote various agendas (as have animal rights activists)… or dishonor survivors by ignoring Holocaust Remembrance Day entirely – in some cases even thumbing our noses at it… or by injecting the most extreme interpretation of modesty for women into it.

Here is my message to these people: get a clue. The Holocaust was not about your agenda. It was not about tznius. Do not dishonor the memory of the victims or mock the sensitivity of the survivors by using the Holocaust for your own purpose or injecting your unreasonable tznius standards by photo-shopping women out of Holocaust pictures.

And to those who in other ways dishonor Holocaust Remembrance Day… Stop it! All you end up doing is dishonoring yourselves and bring mockery upon the Torah!

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Islamist Media Digitally Cover Prominent Western Women

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Many Western political woman have acquiesced to Islamist customs and donned hijabs, a subject I have been following in some detail. But what happens when a woman covers insufficiently for the Islamists? Well, they do the job for her. This blog reports on Photoshopped efforts in Iran, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere.

Catherine Ashton, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union, meeting with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, after their failed negotiations in Istanbul. Note Ashton’s discreet clothing and her hands folded out of the way.

Uncensored: Catherine Ashton with Saeed Jalili.

But her necline did not suffice for the Iranians, who in at least one newspaper, Hamshahri, published by the municipality of Tehran, helpfully pulled it up for her.

Censored: Catherine Ashton with Saeed Jalili.

Gisele Bündchen, a supermodel, starring in an H&M advertising campaign in Dubai. (May 16, 2011)

Gisele Bündchen covered and original.

Mariah Carey, singer, apparently had album photographs modified in Saudi Arabia.

Mariah Carey original and covered picture.

Michelle Obama at the Academy Awards ceremony, with her chest and arms digitally covered by the Iranian news agency Fars. Making this incident the more piquant is that Naeem Khan, an Indian Muslim, designed her sleeveless silver gown and Argo, a movie about U.S.-Iran relations set in Tehran, won the Oscar award for best picture.

Michelle Obama original and covered picture.

Originally published at DanielPipes.org, February 25, 2013.

The ‘Tznius Chase’: Is This Photo Immodest?

Monday, January 28th, 2013

The extremes of tznius among Haredim was illustrated last week by the picture accompanying this post.

One may ask, what could possibly be wrong with a picture of a group of Haredim bundled up for winter surrounding a snowman. Well this is not just any picture. It is a picture of Beitar’s mayor, Meir Rubenstein and his family. For those who don’t know, Beitar is a very Haredi city. This picture should indicate just how Haredi it is. The mayor and his family look pretty Haredi.

The publisher of this picture was summed to a religious court for publishing this picture in his weekly ad-paper.

What in heaven’s name – one might ask – is wrong with this picture? Obviously those of you who cannot figure it out – are not sensitive enough to know just how sexually arousing it is. (Interesting that the term used in the Behadrey Haredim caption is ‘aroused’.)

Look carefully. There is a picture of a woman’s face in the background. All you see is a face of a woman whose hair is completely covered and whose fully clothed body is blocked by the people standing next to her.

This would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Even though Beitar is Haredi – I do not believe it is comprised of extremists. And yet this picture was considered so provocative that that its publisher was summoned to a Beis Din. I’m not sure the publisher even realized there was a woman in the picture. That’s how obscure her image is.

The incident is really emblematic of a much larger issue. What this says is just how ridiculous issues of tznius have become in the world of right wing Haredism and how far the ‘tznius race’ is taking us.

Ordinarily it wouldn’t bother me that much that the most right wing segment of Judaism wants to reduce tznius to such ridiculous extremes. Live and let live I always say. But Haredim do not live in a vacuum. Beitar is a municipality. People visit it and know about. Their citizens interact with the rest of society in their jobs and in every day life. Beitar citizens are not isolated. People know about Beitar. They are not Neturei Karta or even Eida HaCharedis people necessarily. They are more or less mainstream – albeit on the extreme right of it.

In matters of tznius these days, there is a competition among groups of Haredim. So that even moderate Haredim might latch on to something like this. And once moderate Haredim accept such strictures, it becomes the standard for everyone except the extreme left of Modern Orthodoxy. While Centrist Orthodoxy and most moderate Haredim are not there yet. It may only be a matter of time before the tznius chase catches up with them.

If you think there is no race like that going on, you would be wrong. There is. No where is this more evident these days than at Orthodox weddings. Or even banquets. Seating at weddings and banquets are increasingly sex segregated. Single or married men and women are seated at different tables at opposite ends of a banquet hall – separated by a Mechitza. A Mechitza for weddings might be understandable – even if the seating is mixed. Watching women dance may be problematic in some cases. But banquets do not have any women dancing at all. And yet Mechitzos are increasingly becoming the standard.
The reason for this in my view is the tznius chase. Which is a subset of the Frumkeit race- also known as the move to the right. When one segment sees another segment move to the right they will tend to follow suit so as not to be outdone by those who claim to be more religious.

What happened with seating arrangements is now happening with pictures. Haredi publications are increasingly not carrying any pictures of women. Witness Hamodia, The Yated, Mishpacha, and Ami. ArtScroll still does. But I wonder how long it will take before they too join the tznius chase.

The phenomenon of moving to the right seems to be more about image these days than it is about substance.

Black hats is another example that illustrates this point. When I was in Telshe back in the sixties, the only time high school students wore black fedoras was on Shabbos. No one wore one during the week. Not even for Tefillah B’Tzibur.

Yes, we had to wear caps for that. But it could be any kind of cap, including baseball caps. Which most of us wore in those days. Try that today in a right wing Haredi Yeshiva. Or even in a moderate Haredi Yeshiva.

They will call ‘wearing black hats’ growing in Yiddsihkeit. “We have grown spiritually” – they will say – “since the ‘dark days’ of the sixties.” Spiritually? Really? Black hats? It reminds me of what a recent guest poster said about this issue. When he asked a Rebbe in his Yeshiva why black hats were so important, he was told that we do what the Chafetz Chaim did. He wore a black hat and so must we. We are supposed to emulate the behavior of our Gedolim.

Of course pictures of the Chafetz Chaim even in his old age show nothing of the sort. He wore a cap.

I call it growing in “Frumkiet” not gowing in Yiddishkeit. Frumkiet emphasizes the hitzonius (exterior facade) much more than the penimius (individual character). Frumkeit is not Judaism.

This appears to be the case in Beitar. That they called the publisher of that picture on the carpet because of the “tznius” violation in that picture says it all.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Tznius Squads: Can This Really be Judaism?

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

I’m sorry. I just can’t believe this is Yiddishkeit. No matter how tolerant I try to be, I can’t believe that customs (like those described in a Forward article) found among Chasidic sects like Satmar and Ger have even the remotest connection to Judaism. I simply do not believe that this is how God wants His people to behave.

I know that I have preached tolerance and acceptance of all Jews. I still do. And I still believe in Achdus in the sense of respecting the Hashkafos and customs of others. The above-mentioned Chasidic sects have every right to believe as they wish.But when those beliefs translate into actions that are harmful – like their Vaad HaTznius (modesty squads) or the events that have taken place with respect to the Weberman trial, then I don’t believe for a minute that they have anything to do with Judaism. I sometimes wonder if even the majority of the people in these Chasidic communities really believe in them in their heart of hearts.

These were the thoughts that came rushing into my head once again as I read the Forward article. The bullying and strong-arm tactics of Williamsburg’s Tznius squads were described at theWeberman trial. Not only is that an abhorrent misuse of power and a mistaken perception of what modesty in Judaism is all about, I think it actually degrades an individual’s humanity to insist on such extremes.

I still find it shocking that something like a Tznius squad exists and operates with impunity. What I do not find shocking is the fact that the people who are on these ‘squads’ are what my father used to call Leidik-Geyers – people who have nothing to do with their time. Of which they have a plenty since Williamsburg has plenty of residents that do not work. But… what kind of people constitute the Tznius squad is a side issue.

I’m sorry. This is not Judaism. It doesn’t matter that the Tznius squad is sourced in the Rambam as the writer of the Forward article explains. The Rambam was describing another scenario and I doubt that any extension of his ideas would have included the establishment of a Tznius Squad.
There is another thing described in that article has to be the most ridiculous nonsense I can imagine. It is the idea that a husband and wife are not buried together in their cemeteries. There is actually a separation of the sexes in the grave. I kid you not.

I mean… what are they afraid will happen? Do they think this will lead to the 2 corpses sleeping together? And even if they did, they were married for Pete’s sake! And no one would see them anyway because… they’re buried! How far can they take these Tznius concepts before even their own people start laughing at them?

How in heaven’s named can anyone ever really buy into this practice? And yet it seems that hundreds of thousands of people do. I cannot for the life of me figure out why. Are such customs worth the ridicule they bring upon Orthodox Jewry from the rest of the world?

I know, I know… I just said a moment ago that I accept their Hashkafos as legitimate even if I don’t agree with them. I do. I accept for example their stated reasons for opposing the State of Israel. I accept their heightened sense of modesty. And I applaud all the good works they are famous for. What I do not accept is the harmful behavior of some of them; those among them who insist on imposing their will upon others; and upon further reflection – questionable customs that would bring ridicule upon us.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

A World Untouched by Civilization

Friday, September 21st, 2012

The woman, wearing a tank top and jeans, has her full attention on the tomato box. The haredi woman touches one of her bare arms. The woman turns around and the haredi woman immediately snaps at her, pointing at her bare arms: “Next time don’t come to the market like this. Next time you’ll come with sleeves.”

The above excerpt from an article in Ynet illustrates one of problems isolationist societies like the one that Charedi woman ‘Tznius- cop” no doubt comes from.

Machane Yehuda (pictured) was overhauled by Jewish merchants very likely in order to compete with the Arab Shuk. The Arab Shuk was opened up to Jews after the 6-day war. And business boomed. Arab merchants of all types selling their wares had a new and booming market in all the Israelis and tourists that came to visit the Kotel. Going through the Arab Shuk was one of the common ways to leave that area. On my first trip to Israel I exited the Kotel Plaza that way. It was (and still is) a sight to behold.

But once the terrorism started, many Jews feared entering that area – although some Jews (mostly tourists I imagine) still shop there. The Shuk was a great place to buy produce at a very cheap price. Sensing a need, a new market for cheap produce was estabished outside the old city for Jews. It is called Machane Yehuda. If I recall correctly it is not far from Meah Shearim. Some people call it the Israeli Shuk.

Meah Shearim residents shop there. But they are not the only ones. Secular Jews are increasingly doing so. And that is where yet another clash of cultures takes place.

Here’s the problem. Meah Shearim Jews have a heightened sensitivity to Tznius violations. A woman wearing a sleeveless top and slacks will be considered inappropriately attired.

While this may not be a Halachicly acceptable way for a Jewish woman to dress in public – most of the rest of the world – religious Jews included – is used to this kind of dress and thinks nothing of it. Even for those who do consider it a problem they simply try not to look at an immodestly dressed woman. In the world of Meah Shearim this intolerable. They cannot handle it.

So to the extent they are able – they try to impose their modesty standards. Hence one will see signs related to female dress as one enters the Meah Shearim neighborhoods. This phenomenon in and of itself is tolerable. The residents of that neighborhood have a right to express their sensitivities to those who enter their neighborhoods. What they do not have a right to do is enforce them. Unfortunately some of the more militant residents of that neighborhood don’t care about whether or not they have that right or not. They enforce it. In some cases using means that the Mafia would be proud of.

There are horror stories of acid or bleach being spilled on innocent passersby if they were dressed in less than Meah Shearim community Tznius standards. They also have Tznius squads that go around checking what people wear and intimidating merchants into carrying Tznius signs throughout Meah Shearim and the nearby Geula neighborhood. They have torched stores, beat up businessmen who sold “inappropriate” technology, and vandalized a religious bookstore for refusing to carry one of their signs.

Until recently their tactics have been limited to their own neighborhoods. But now they have decided to branch out. We all know about the intimidating tactics that took place last year in Bet Shemesh where an eight-year old girl was harassed daily on her way to a religious school and called a whore. But now they are branching out. To places like Machane Yehuda. And instead of men doing the harassing – it is women.

Last year it happened to some women walking in the streets of Jerusalem outside of the Meah Shearim neighborhood.

Here’s the thing. They cannot impose their standards on the world. They do not own the world. Just because they see someone they think is not properly dressed does not give them the right to intimidate them. To most of the civilized world that is a forgone conclusion. But not for them.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/a-world-untouched-by-civilization/2012/09/21/

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