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    “Shield your eyes”

    “Shield your eyes”

    I mentioned the other day the growing demographic divide in the New York City area Jewish community, which has a rapidly growing Orthodox community and stagnant if not shrinking “secular” community.

    That demographic shift has political implications as Orthodox Jews are not a core Democratic constituency.

    It also is sparking something of in inter-Borough (for those outside NYC, call it an inter-county) feud, as the Orthodox Jews tend to live outside Manhattan.

    Via The Times of Israel, an “ultra-Orthodox” group has taken it one step further, Billboard warns Jews of NYC’s dangers:

    A group of ultra-Orthodox Jews are behind a bright red billboard sign that was recently erected alongside the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. On it is written in Hebrew: “Dear Jew: You are entering a dangerous place. Shield your eyes.” For added emphasis, “Shield your eyes” also appears in English.

    The dear Jews being addressed by the sign are likely the ones who commute to Manhattan from Brooklyn for work.

    Josh Nathan-Kazis postulates in the Forward that the sign, sponsored by an organization called the Congregation of Yad Moshe (which appears to have ties to State Assemblyman Dov Hikind), is part of an offensive by Haredi Brooklyn against secular Jewish Manhattan. “While Brooklyn’s Jewish community is exploding, Manhattan’s is shrinking. And judging in part by the highway billboard, the ascendant Brooklynites have little regard for the declining Manhattanites,” Nathan-Kazis wrote.

    “Hoping to preserve its massive growth, the ultra-Orthodox community has been on a war footing in recent months, striking back against web access in its homes and yeshivas by holding a massive anti-Internet rally and promulgating new bans against web use,” he further commented.

    You will be hearing more about this tension in the political realm in the years to come.


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    BannedbytheGuardian | June 20, 2012 at 12:15 am

    I have it that many of these religious Jews (I can’t keep up with the branches ) in NY do not register their marriages with the state. They only obey the religious vows /arrangements. hence they are eligible for many state benefits .

    Thus they vote D to preserve these.

    When this changes let me know.

      Milhouse in reply to BannedbytheGuardian. | June 21, 2012 at 2:26 am

      If they didn’t have to pay such high taxes they wouldn’t need the subsidies. Poverty within the community could be handled by charity within the community. Taxes suck that money out, so naturally if the programs are on offer they’ll be taken advantage of. But when given a realistic choice (not often in NYC) they will vote Republican.

    Ultra-Orthodox want to shield themselves from things people like me find perfectly innocuous, like other people’s houses of worship. It’s slightly disturbing, but whatever.
    From what I understand they are not too terribly political.

    racnew | June 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    There seems to be a good amount of misconstruing of what the sign “Shield Your Eyes” means (although there are more commenters on this blog than others that do have a more accurate idea). I am an observant Jew (who was for much of my life more secular). The meaning of the “Shield Your Eyes” sign is thus: it serves as a reminder for religious people who are traveling out of their more sheltered neighborhoods into a place where there will be immodest dress and behavior. Modesty in both these areas is very important in observant Jewish life and always has been. However, the secular world has become inured to immodesty in both dress and behavior, is even to varying degrees somewhat hostile to the concept of modesty in general, and does not value modesty as something to aspire to. The sign has nothing to do with other houses of worship, or anything else.

      Milhouse in reply to racnew. | June 21, 2012 at 2:31 am

      Well, not nothing to do; Proverbs 5:8 is primarily understood to be about idolatry, not an actual prostitute. (Avoda Zara 17a) But you’re right in general that most people only worry pro forma about looking at churches; what really worries them is the literal whores of Babylon (or Gotham), not the figurative ones.

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