Pushy Crown Heights Sign Urges You To “Please Dress Modestly”

072514sign.jpgGothamist- by Lauren Evans

It’s summer, and you know what that means: Short-shorts, bare midriffs, unseemly amounts of wicked skin positively everywhere. Well, some residents of Crown Heights are so scandalized by your vile body they’ve gone ahead and printed some signs, demanding “residents, guests and visitors” cover up. Or else?

The backdrop of the sign depicts what appears to be a lovely spring day—the grass looks inviting and soft, the sky is blue and filled with fluffy clouds. Somewhere out of frame, Thong Guy is surely gearing up for a relaxing afternoon. And that’s exactly what the sign’s creators don’t want.  

072514sign2.jpg (Alexa Antopol)

“Love and Respect,” it reads, with “love” printed in gentle, sloping red cursive. “Respect,” though, has a sharper tone, with white block letters suggesting a Machiavellian sternness. “Dear Resident, Guest, Visitor,” it goes on. “PLEASE DRESS MODESTLY. THIS IS A JEWISH NEIGHBORHOOD.”

To the sign’s creators—a few points. The attempt to create a sense of otherness by referring to passersby as “visitors” and “guests” is bullshit. The street is city property, and its upkeep is financed by taxes we all pay. I am not a “guest”—that street is as much mine as it is yours. I have not sauntered into your living room wearing nothing but a smile and a merkin. I have not dropped in to your child’s preschool parading my second best nipple tassels.

Second of all, this particular sign was posted at Kingston Avenue and Lincoln Place. While Crown Heights is home to a large population of ultra-Orthodox Jews, the idea that any one group can claim ownership over a neighborhood is wrongheaded. Crown Heights resident Alexa Antopol, who sent the photos, put it best:

I wear what I want to (what is most comfortable and appropriate) and have done so since I was old enough to purchase my own clothes. “Modesty,” as defined by others, is not a ​​​​consideration as I dress myself to face the day. I am capable of pulling together appropriate and flattering attire on my own, using my best judgement and taste.

If one finds oneself offended by my attire, that’s not my fault or my problem. Signs printed with demeaning and insulting subtext that my “immodest” attire is offensive to a particular group to which I do not belong are offensive to me.

Resident Native New Yorker Jake Dobkin has also weighed in, saying that no one has the right to tell a New Yorker what clothes he or she can wear outside. “If you want people to dress a certain way in your temple, or in your bakery, you can ask, because that’s a more private space,” he said. On the other hand, the signs are protected by free speech—”you’re free to ignore them!” he said, adding that in Jerusalem, an immodest outfit is liable to make you the target of hurled garbage and hawked loogies—or worse.

Happily, that’s not the case here. Keep on truckin,’ Scout Willis.


5 thoughts on “Pushy Crown Heights Sign Urges You To “Please Dress Modestly”

  1. Unfortunately, The Orthodox Jews seem to have the same attitudes wherever the are, even up here in the north country. They seem to have a genius for alienating others, then they wonder why they’re treated the way they are. Sad.

  2. Crown Heights! Tel Aviv of the west. More Jews live there than in Poland< sarcasm. Tell those curly lock bastards to take a damn shower, I got trapped between these people at a Ron Paul caucus at the Sheldon adelson center in Summerlin here in Las Vegas, Jesus H Christ these people stunk.

    1. you don’t know the half of it, Wade. Try getting on a crowded subway through Borough Park (what we used to call “Jew town”) in August, when it’s 90 degrees outside, and the Hasidic Jews who refuse to bathe have the entire car filled with their stench.

  3. First of all, Jews may own all the property, but there are many more blacks than Jews living in Crown Heights, and there always has been.

    And it’s NOT a Jewish neighborhood. It’s an American neighborhood with too many Jews in it. If you don’t like the way people exercise their freedom of expression through clothing, or the lack thereof, move your long-skirted women and inbred kids to Tel Aviv, and practice your culture there.

    Any you’re lucky I’m not in Brooklyn anymore, because I’d be peeing all over that sign.

  4. After reviewing the photographs of walmartians, all I can say is that some folks need to be covered as they are an affront to the eye of every beholder.

    Those of you who are willing to go to the mat for the privilege of wearing a gold lamé jock strap in public, you are probably the same narcissists who avoid the real thorny political issues that need aggressive resistance.

    This is not a symptom, this is the disease.

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