Thursday, June 09, 2011

Rabbis To Williamsburg Women: Don't Wear Tank Tops! 


Just in time for New York's first heat wave of the summer, members of the Hasidic Jewish community in trendy Williamsburg are posting fliers asking women not to wear tank tops.

The Central Rabbinical Congress, a council of rabbis, placed posters everywhere in South Williamsburg, urging women to dress modestly despite temperatures that may flirt with 100 degrees this week.

"It's too hot to cover it up. I'm trying to take more off," said Williamsburger Mary Keyes, dressed in a short floral dress. The poster urges women to avoid wearing tank tops, t-shirts, and clingy dresses.

"That's ridiculous. This is America, "said Alex Aponte, from South Williamsburg.

A Hasidic father of two helped translate the poster, written in Yiddish except for the words "tank tops". "It says no skirts should be too short, no tank tops, anything that shows too much skin," translated a Hasidic father of two, on Lee Street. "In our religion, that's what people should look like," he continued.

Strict Orthodox women often wear skirts that fell well below the knees, shirts with long sleeves and blouses that cover the neck. A Williamsburg neighborhood modesty group has also reportedly been pressuring women not to speak on cell phones in public and to cross the street when they see a man walking in the opposite direction.

This isn't the first time there's been a clash between the tightly-knit Orthodox community and the outside world. Just last month Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was erased from the historic photo of the Situation Room in a Hasidic newspaper.

There was also a hubbub over bike lanes that were removed from a Hasidic neighborhood to prevent women in less-than-conservative dress from scandalizing the Hasidic men.

The Hasidic community has also complained publicly about H&M ads and a billboard for the new 90210 that showed teenagers in bathing suits.

Some Williamsburg residents have run out of patience with the group's requests for modesty. "Now they are telling us what to wear? This is New York," said one woman wearing short yellow shorts and a T-shirt, both violations to what some Brooklynites are now calling the "Tank Top Ban".


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