American Apparel has a Spiritual Leader

who got a woody?

And his name is der heyliker rebe, the holy rabbi, aka Woody Allen. At least that seems to be the case judging from an American Apparel billboard that recently appeared on the corner of Houston and Allen Streets on New York’s Lower East Side. American Apparel is generally known for putting up provocative and sexy ads, but one might consider Woody Allen, despite well, everything… sexy. One might also need to be heavily medicated. But I digress.

Reached for comment, American Apparel spokeswoman Alexandra Spunt stated “Woody Allen is our spiritual leader and that’s the only statement the company will make on that issue.” I definitely heard snickering in the background. The same billboard also appears on the corner of Sunset and Alvarado in Los Angeles (right next to Burrito King). There’s no telling what the mostly Latino residents of the neighborhood are expected to make of the ad.

Hat Tip: The Forward and Esther

NOTE: Read Esther’s take on the American Apparel billboard on beliefnet and see why it is we all love her unique perspective…

By invoking the Woodman, AA’s message may be that it doesn’t matter how other people see you. Just be who you are.

Words of wisdom from Esther and… Dov Charney? Heh…

UPDATE: Did the Woodster’s lawyers call American Apparel? If so, the conversation may have gone something like “Uh… what are you guys doing?” Needless to say, the billboards are now down. The whole campaign was pretty funny and it got me to rent “Annie Hall” and watch the movie again.

Founder of Jewlicious? Publisher? Man I hate titles. I coined the name Jewlicious and I slave over the site. I live in Jerusalem and I need to get some breakfast.

28 Comments

  1. DK

    5/10/2007 at 6:15 pm

    I don’t see the joke. Seems legit to me.

  2. larry mark

    5/10/2007 at 10:51 pm

    is it a coincidence that the billboard of Woody Allen as a rabbi (I assume it is from Bananas) is on Allen Street?

  3. phoebe

    5/10/2007 at 11:24 pm

    Annie Hall at dinner with Grammy Hall, no?

  4. Yoni

    5/11/2007 at 9:24 am

    Unfortunate that such a provocative billboard wasn’t even spellchecked. The word should be spelled הייליגער with a gimmel, not a kuf.

  5. Tom Morrissey

    5/11/2007 at 9:29 am

    The Latinos may mistake him for Che Guevara.

  6. Esther

    5/11/2007 at 10:11 am

    Just wait for my analysis, coming to Beliefnet.com/blogs/idolchatter soon.

  7. Grand Muffti

    5/11/2007 at 10:52 am

    Ah Burrito King, Muffti remembers having good times there with CK.

  8. ariela

    5/11/2007 at 10:58 am

    Haha! Awesome… On Allen street, no less.

  9. Larry Mark

    5/11/2007 at 11:50 am

    well.. he was a saintly rebbe in the early nightclub years…. but since Interiors… he ain’t so saintly. although he does play some mean clarinet. On the other hand, if American Apparel’s CEO, Dov C. has an appetite for kinky… welll maybe Allen actually is their saintly rebbe… or their wunderlicher heiliger rebbe

  10. ck

    5/11/2007 at 12:00 pm

    Oh Yoni. That’s not true. Spelling it with a gimmel would be ok if you’re a lowbrow Galicianner – but the high brow Litvish spelling is with a kuf. What? You need to be skooled in the intricacies of Yiddish spelling by a stupid Moroccan? I expect better from someone who is dating a Yekke. Shabbat Shalom Yonaleh…

  11. Esther

    5/11/2007 at 12:24 pm

    OK, all here’s my analysis. See “Woody Allen is Our Homeboy,” over at Beliefnet.

  12. Ephraim

    5/11/2007 at 1:56 pm

    Right. Ham dinner with Grammy Hall in “Annie Hall”.

    I know that opinions on Allen are sharply divided, but “Annie Hall” is a brilliant, original, and poignant film. It is extremely difficult to make a laugh-out-loud comedy that also cuts to the bone regarding the messiness of personal relationships. It’s still one of my favorite films.

    I eventually got tired of Allen’s “aren’t Jews grotesque” angle and his idiotic pronouncements on Jewish/Israeli politics, but he is, in a way, the cinema’s version of Philip Roth. Love him or hate him, it’s impossible to ignore his work.

  13. Rabbi Yonah

    5/11/2007 at 6:33 pm

    Yoni- CK is correct.
    Uriel Weinrich in his Yiddish Dictionary spells it withק

    Good shabbos

  14. Yoni

    5/12/2007 at 1:53 pm

    That I’m dating a Yekke–and studying German–actually contributed to my accusation of the mistaken spelling. The German word from which the Yiddish derives is heiliger, with a G. Incidentally, a Google search for הייליג yields 882 results, including the Wikipedia spelling, while הייליק yields a mere 290 results.

    While I haven’t yet looked into it yet, I would imagine that the ק derives from confusion deciphering the German “g,” which ranges from the hard English “g” to Arabic “ghayin” to Hebrew ×—. If anything, then, הייליק would then be the lowbrow spelling/pronunciation and yet another manifestation of the flouting of pronunciation conventions among Eastern European Jews.

  15. Serge

    5/12/2007 at 11:35 pm

    Of course, the Yiddish does not “derive” from the modern high-German spelling. Both derive from dialects spoken earlier in history, at which time neither the German nor Yiddish languages had been codified authoritatively. Both today’s German and Yiddish spellings are branches from those roots; neither is subordinate to the other.

    The belief that Eastern European Jews were “flouting” pronunciation conventions is similarly incorrect, because based on the same misapprehension of how history unfolded.

  16. DK

    5/13/2007 at 12:16 am

    Regardless of grammar, it is clear even to Zionists that Litvak = highbrow and Galicianner = lowbrow, and on that, there is no debate.

    Yoni wrote,

    “That I’m dating a Yekke.” Well, (speaking from what I heard on the gas), many of us of Lithuanian-Jewish descent end up dating half Yekkes because they are the closest thing to Lithuanian Jews, who are no longer plentiful, except for South Africans, who don’t usually come here unfortunately. Which is a shame, because if I have to date one more “spiritual” Galicianner chick, I am going to scream. What a bunch of rubbish that is. Whatever happened to good old fashioned Apikorsus?

    Anyway, there is a Yemenite community that is more Litvish than the Litvaks. They don’t even say the bracha “hanothain l’oyaif coach, because it’s based on Kabbalah, and that’s narishkeit. Right, ck?

    Anyway, how hot is that? Chocolate Litvak maidlach! But they never go out with me twice. You know why? Because they are racists.

  17. DK

    5/13/2007 at 12:18 am

    sorry about those tags. Motzei shabbos, if you know what I’m sayin’.

  18. ck

    5/13/2007 at 1:07 am

    Look into it Yoni. You’ll see that I am right. And then you can tell people that you were skooled in Yiddish by a Moroccan Jew. This will give me such great naches!

  19. dwave

    5/13/2007 at 2:14 pm

    anything more about morrocans and I will step on your ×›×£

  20. ck

    5/13/2007 at 3:28 pm

    Uh… in case you didn’t get it dwave, I am a Moroccan (that’s one R and two Cs btw) Jew. The point was that even I, with my understandably limited mastery of the intricacies of any language, let alone Yiddish, knew that American Apparel had chosen the high-Yiddish spelling in their ad. They did not make a spelling error as Yoni had claimed.

    So relax. We’re not making fun of Moroccans. We’re making fun of the vus vus. OK?

  21. Nate Westheimer

    5/14/2007 at 11:14 pm

    Just confirming… the ad is down here in NYC. I just walked by it (not there).

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  23. chimpokomon

    4/2/2008 at 10:46 am

    Allen is lame, and the people discussing the yiddish writting are as well. It is after all called AMERICAN APPAREL on a billboard in a LATINO neighborhood. Im sure lots and lots of Americans, let alone Latin Americans speak yiddish

  24. Samantha P

    4/5/2008 at 11:24 pm

    “Woody Allen is our spiritual leader” they must be atheists.

    it’s pretty funny, but i could see why he’s angry, don’t use my face to push your poorly made clothing! hahaha!

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  26. froylein

    4/7/2008 at 8:22 am

    Yoni, the thing is that neither German nor Yiddish, unlike all other Indo-European languages, pronounce voiced consonants at the end of a word, so words ending in -g are pronounced as if they were ending in -k. Since Yiddish words of German origin are just transliterated, different ways of spelling may occur. Words ending in -ig though, as long as they are not followed by a suffix, are pronounced like /ich/ (the pronunciation /ik/ is improper); the voiced -g- is pronounced if a suffix follows. Since Middle High German as well as those dialects were Yiddish originated use a soft or even voiced consonant sound at the end of “heilig”, the -g is indeed the more accurate way to go. When klal sprakh, the attempt at a standardized Yiddish never really acceptd by native speakers, was created, its “makers” tried to get as far away with its spelling from the German versions as possible so it wouldn’t resemble German too much. This inevitably made for the mutilation of spelling and even pronunciation as many nowaday native speakers of Yiddish only are third-generation speakers of it.

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