Sunday, August 31, 2008

Brooklyn, NY - Hasids: This Ad is Anti-Sign-Metic?

Brooklyn, NY - A billboard hyping the teen drama “90210” has some members of Williamsburg’s Hasidic Jews all worked up.
The ad, which is visible from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, depicts a handful of swimsuit-clad actors and actresses lounging in a pool — starkly violating the Hasidic interpretation of at least two Jewish laws, neighborhood leaders say.
“In Jewish law, it is forbidden to see any part of a lady that is not dressed — and having men and women swimming together is also not permissible, even if they are fully clothed,” said Rabbi David Niederman, president of the United Jewish Organization, who last month protested against a risqué ad by the clothing retailer H&M on the same roadway.
But the real problem with the sign is the location, not the content.
“People from our community pass by this daily,” said Niederman, who noted that the BQE is the primary route for Hasidic Jews who shuttle between communities in Williamsburg and Borough Park. “They are bringing Times Square to our home. What’s OK over there is not OK over here.”
Hasids say their complaints to the company that owns the billboard — much like the careers of the original “90210” stars Luke Perry and Jason Priestley — have been ignored.
“We have called them and I’m very surprised that they are turning a deaf ear,” said Williamsburg resident Simon Weiser. “It’s real racy and it doesn’t belong in our community where you have children who aren’t used to seeing these images.”
The owner of the building at the corner of Clermont and Park avenues, where the billboard is mounted, declined to comment.
A local rep for the CW network, which will air the “90210” redux, had no comment.
Not everyone in the neighborhood found the image distasteful.“I don’t think they’re offensive,” said Canarsie resident James Dean. “And I’ve seen a lot of women.”

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