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South Williamsburg, NY: Hassids vs. Hipster Hotties on Bikes

What happens when two wildly divergent communities find themselves living in uncomfortably close proximity to each other? As rents and the cost of living in Manhattan have skyrocketed over the last few years, artists, students and hipsters have been forced to move off the Island into otherwise foreign locales. The neighborhood of Williamsburg was one such place. Located just over the Brooklyn Williamsburg Bridge near the Lower East Side, this formerly unfashionable part of the city was populated by a collection of immigrants and Hassids. In the last couple of years however it has been verily invaded by said hipsters escaping urban gentrification kickstarted by former Mayor Giuliani’s Disneyfication of Manhattan. Now Williamsburg is peppered with smart coffee shops, art galleries and bars that dispense a constant and ironic flow of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Red Stripe Beer.

Things came to a head last week as the Hassidic community protested the construction of… bicycle lanes. It turns out that

“…the bike riders are frequently “hotties,” that is, women, “many of whom ride in shorts and skirts.” “I have to admit, it’s a major issue, women passing through here in that dress code,” Simon Weisser, a member of Community Board 1 in Williamsburg-Greenpoint, told the Post… “It’s real racy and it doesn’t belong in our community where you have children who aren’t used to seeing these images,”

Of course the original New York Post article notes that at the relevant meeting discussing the bike paths, the representatives of the Hassidic community made no mention of scantily clad biker babes. Instead they focused on bike lanes allegedly causing parking problems and traffic congestion as well as the danger posed to children by bikers who don’t obey traffic laws. But all the attention seems to be focused on the prurient aspects of this conflict. People leaving comments on the New York post site do not seem to have read the underlying article very carefully and the loons on both sides of the conflict seem to be out in full force. Particularly entertaining and dismaying are the anti-hipster, anti-Liberal, anti-Democrat, anti-everything comments/rants by a guy called Ahksel who is clearly irredeemably retarded. Or insane. Or both.

Some people need to be kept far, far away from computer keyboards.

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38 Comments

  1. froylein

    9/14/2008 at 10:19 pm

    You know about my affinity with the Chasidishe community, so I may qualify as somewhat biased compared to “mainstream” secular people, but I do wonder if moving to a distinctively culturally-coined neighbourhood because it’s cheap and it’s hip to be in “stark” contrast to the extremely religious / traditional background and then complaining about the unwritten rules of conduct such neighbourhoods have established for themselves – and Chasidim do not fare much different there than many other hadcore religious communities in the US – isn’t just as retarded as sticking to a dresscode akin to late 18th / early 19th century Polish merchants. I could also be strolling the streets of my village scantily clad during Corpus Christi parade; it would be perfectly legal, yet utterly disrespectful towards the neighbourhood I choose to live in. Progressiveness can also include not hurting somebody’s feelings.
    And indeed, bike riders not obeying traffic rules isn’t just majorly retarded by the bikers themselves as they put their health at risk but also inconsiderate as it might force other drivers to react in such a way to avoid collisions that they might have to put their own health at risk. Bike lanes are all good and nice given there is the space for them and bikers will actually use them (which, according to my experience, over there is not the case). As I told a student of mine the other day, “If you want me to treat you like an adult, stop acting like a three-year-old that only cares to have its way.” Playing the artsy agent provocateur is not cool. It’s immature.

  2. Yoni C.

    9/14/2008 at 10:32 pm

    retarded is not a politically correct word.

  3. Tim

    9/15/2008 at 12:08 am

    one day, sensibility will replace political correctness… if only I could say that with a straight face

  4. ck

    9/15/2008 at 1:30 am

    Froylein: Have you been to Williamsburg? Or Crown Heights? Or Boro Park? I’m not worried about getting bruised by a bicycle – the more realistic health threat is getting flattened like a Matza by a Dreidel Mom in mini van distracted by a car load of screaming kinderlach, or a dude doing his daily chavrusah on his cell phone while driving his Crown Royal Sedan. I know you know what I’m talking about. Williamsburg is not an exclusively Haredi enclave. Non-Haredim who move there are well within their rights to have bike paths as they are tax paying citizens entitled to services just like anyone else. And bike paths are a good idea. Good for your health and good for the environment. The Haredim could benefit from a little exercise… Oh wait. Didn’t a Haredi Rabbi last year ban bicycles because they were goyish? Oy.

    Yoni C: Sorry. But I really believe that Ahksel is actually retarded.

  5. froylein

    9/15/2008 at 8:51 am

    ck, the funny thing is that Willi used to be a Chasidishe / industrial enclave long before anybody came up with the term “hipster”. Anyhow, I agree bike paths are good, but folks need to stay on those. It’s a matter of safety. Are you seriously asking whether I’d ever been to Willi or BP? Didn’t I tell you when we first were in touch the easiest way to find something out about me was to ask any Chasid from BP? Not all the rumours are true, mind you, but still. 🙂

  6. DiGiTaL

    9/15/2008 at 9:11 am

    As a life long Brooklynite, I remember a time when u didn’t step foot in Williamsburg because it was dangerous. Only, the Chasidim were really settling in droves. It’s pretty amazing how much the place has changed along with Dumbo, Redhook, South Slope, etc.

  7. DK

    9/15/2008 at 11:02 am

    The payos-heads have to understand this is a free country. Maybe they should move somewhere where they can push their fundamentalist interpretation of their religion on others.

  8. ck

    9/15/2008 at 11:51 am

    DK: WHY are you SO predictable Duvidle? Can’t you surprise my just ONCE!

  9. DK

    9/15/2008 at 12:55 pm

    ck, this is an egregious position. I’m sorry you feel the need to equivocate on behalf of fanatics who see no need to live and let live. Either you see the problem with attempting to preempt alternative transit, or you don’t.

    And taking a “They’re both wrong!” position is the tried and true formula of the apologist for fanaticism.

  10. froylein

    9/15/2008 at 1:47 pm

    C’mon, lads, Chasidishe men get to see enough pale legs at home; maybe they should be offered more tan bikers?

  11. Shuki

    9/15/2008 at 2:02 pm

    Hasidim complaining about other people violating traffic laws… Now that’s funny! 😀

    Alas, like any other community, they are entitled to express their opinions and be heard. I just hope that when the bike lanes are put in — and in some shape or form they will be — that the city musters enough enforecement koach to keep those ubiquitous minivans from double-parking in the bike lanes. Otherwise someone going to get hurt… 🙁 Maybe they can route them on some less-trafficed streets there.

  12. Tom Morrissey

    9/15/2008 at 2:13 pm

    Looks like a test case for the conflicts with US Muslims to come.

    Didn’t realize, btw, that a ‘hipster’ means someone who exercises/rides a bike in attire appropriate to that activity. There are a hell of a lot more hipsters than we thought.

  13. ck

    9/15/2008 at 2:43 pm

    DK: Apologist my ass! I just noted the fact that during the meetings the tznius issue was never brought up. I disagree with the Haredi position. I am a huge fan of bike paths. But I am not going to suspend my critical thinking skills just because The Post dug up 2 Haredi shmeggegges who were all upset about the tznius implications of the bike paths. That’s a more fun story (see my provocative post title) but it may not be accurate. There’s enough about Hassidim to be critical of that we don’t need to embellish or exaggerate. Apologist. Sheesh.

    Now had you made the same, very reasonable point Duvidle, I would have been impressed. This isn’t really about “fundamentalist positions” is it? It’s really about one community who, due to their large families, has a very car centric lifestyle coming up against a society who wishes to reduce carbon emissions and encourage alternative methods of transportation.

  14. ck

    9/15/2008 at 2:44 pm

    And Shuki? Welcome to Jewlicious. For the record we never spam anyone. Just so you know.

  15. Ephraim

    9/15/2008 at 6:16 pm

    DK:

    Just curious, but would you call a Muslim a “towel head”?

    Or would that be, like, you know, too bigoted?

  16. DK

    9/15/2008 at 7:10 pm

    Ephraim, I think it’s cute when you try to paint me as soft on Islamic fundamentalism. Cute in that, “Only a far-right Zionist would say something like that to me.”

  17. DK

    9/15/2008 at 7:13 pm

    It’s really about one community who, due to their large families, has a very car centric lifestyle coming up against a society who wishes to reduce carbon emissions and encourage alternative methods of transportation.

    And you think this is a debate between equally worthy positions? You –once again–fail to appreciate how our oil addiction is hurting the Zionist cause. Very badly. What exactly do you think is funding these groups? Oh, right…you blame it on the marijuana. Of course.

  18. Ephraim

    9/15/2008 at 7:39 pm

    It’s a simple question, DK. Would you call a Muslim a towel head or not?

    Trust you to look for a nefarious far-right wing Zionist agenda.

    I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are against religious extremism on general principle and that you would object if people in a heavily Muslim and/or Christian neighborhood objected to being “invaded” by people who dressed and acted “inappropriately”.

    I’m simply asking if you would gratuitously insult their religion and sartorial choices like you did upthread. It shouldn’t be too difficult a question to answer.

    Or is your self-righteous bigotry reserved only for Jews?

    FWIW, I think the Chassidim are being unreasonable and that seeing a chick on a bike isn’t going to kill them. I just object to smarmy, self-righteous Heeb-style rootless cosmopolitan hipsters going out of their way to insult people in ways that they would never dream of doing if the people they are insulting weren’t religious Jews.

  19. DK

    9/15/2008 at 8:45 pm

    Ephraim, I generally avoid writing with the same language about others that I do about Jews. I put my signature on most of what I write. And as I learned from stand-up, there are different rules for name-calling others. That doesn’t mean I whine about it when others do, and it doesn’t mean I personally see a need to jump on such transgressions as if being “racist” is the end of the world, and what I say and what I write are two different things in this regard, though the policies advocated are the same.

    In terms of attacking fundamentalist Islam, well, that I have done and will continue to do.

    In terms of making fun? Sure. Look: http://kvetcher.net/2008/07/09/muslim-man-persecuted-for-religious-beliefs/

    And here: http://kvetcher.net/2008/05/26/germany-sends-strong-message-to-muslim-community/

  20. DK

    9/15/2008 at 8:46 pm

    FWIW, I think the Chassidim are being unreasonable and that seeing a chick on a bike isn’t going to kill them. I just object to smarmy, self-righteous Heeb-style rootless cosmopolitan hipsters going out of their way to insult people in ways that they would never dream of doing if the people they are insulting weren’t religious Jews.

    That’s because you don’t live in NYC, and couldn’t give a rat’s ass if we have bike paths or not. Fuck the Diaspora, right?

  21. ck

    9/15/2008 at 8:54 pm

    DK: And you think this is a debate between equally worthy positions?

    Huh? I am pro-bicycle path. What I am opposed to is bullshit. Painting this as a predominantly “religious” issue, stirring up all the goyim and the seculars, when all indications are that the Hassids official position was based on convenience. Again. I am opposed to their position. OK? But man. The response – and yours typifies it – is way out of whack based on the facts. other communities have opposed bike paths before. But only Hassidim merit being called payos-heads? Oh oh… I get it. Is it an empowerment thing? Are you trying to take back the term payos-head from the haters? Make it your own? because you’re also a payos-head Duvidle?

    Just admit your reaction was a knee jerk response. It’s ok. People make mistakes. I’ll forgive you!

    By the way, how’s the new roomie working out?

  22. DK

    9/15/2008 at 9:05 pm

    But only Hassidim merit being called payos-heads?

    Well…hipsters don’t have payos.

    Is it an empowerment thing?

    Jesus, no. It was meant as a fundie slur!

  23. DK

    9/15/2008 at 9:12 pm

    okay, fine. I took out the payos-head comment.

    Jesus.

  24. Ephraim

    9/15/2008 at 9:40 pm

    I’m pro-bicycle path too:

    FWIW, I think the Chassidim are being unreasonable and that seeing a chick on a bike isn’t going to kill them.

    I mean, WTF, dude. Can’t you fucking read?

    So you hate religious Jews. I get it. Just don’t expect some of us to put with your shite just because you’re an MOT and it’s “all in the family”.

  25. DK

    9/15/2008 at 9:52 pm

    I mean, WTF, dude. Can’t you fucking read?

    That was ck, not DK, and to me, not to you.

    I mean, WTF, dude. Can’t you fucking read?

    Exactly.

    So you hate religious Jews.

    No. I don’t like fundamentalism. There is a difference, and there are different forms of fundamentalism. And they aren’t all equal or all the same.

  26. Tom Morrissey

    9/15/2008 at 9:53 pm

    Clearly the bottom line here is, drill baby, drill.

  27. Ephraim

    9/15/2008 at 10:20 pm

    I said that because you said this, even after it should have been clear that I thought the Chassidim were being unreasonable:

    That’s because you don’t live in NYC, and couldn’t give a rat’s ass if we have bike paths or not. Fuck the Diaspora, right?

  28. Chutzpah

    9/15/2008 at 11:35 pm

    Just to report on what went on her in Plifton last month, a unmarrried Bais Yaccov girl driving a minivan struck an old lady crossing the street, and rather than stopping, she continued driving until she could call her Uncle and who is a lawyer and ask him what she should do. She was visiting from Baltimore, trying to find a shidduch. She is out on bail and they confiscated her passport.

    We have something call ” Fair Housing Laws” in N.Y.

    Hipsters can move in where ever they want and flaunt their hottness. In fact, I think they should build a hottie bike path in Bnai Brak.

    I’m thinking of starting a business where I send “goyim” of various “non-appropriate” appearance (i.e.: black, asain, tattoed, or worst of all: soccer mom in v-neck short sleeve tee shirt, jeans and sneakers) to apply for rentals and then sue each Ortho landlord for discrimination when they turn them away. I think I could make a pound of flesh for that.

    Anyone read this blog:
    http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/07/11/mezuzah-suit-sparks-ruckus-impassioned-7th-cir-dissent

    very jewlicious: they want their freedoms to practice their religion they way they want, but don’t want to allow anyone freakin’ exercise on a bicycle the way the want to…I think I better dance now.

  29. froylein

    9/15/2008 at 11:45 pm

    a society who wishes to reduce carbon emissions and encourage alternative methods of transportation

    Rather because their parents refuse to buy them a car on top of rent, food, and “art supplies”. 🙂

    (Lest anybody starts whining, my brother’s an environmental scientist, and part of what I teach are ecological and enviromental issues, but being “hip” doesn’t equal to environmentally friendly.)

  30. themicah

    9/16/2008 at 2:46 am

    Located just over the Brooklyn Bridge near the Lower East Side…

    It’s the Williamsburg Bridge (the Brooklyn Bridge is really far from Williamsburg).

  31. ck

    9/16/2008 at 3:20 am

    themicah: Ha ha! Yeah sorry. My bad. Fixed the error.

  32. Chutzpah

    9/16/2008 at 10:50 am

    The link above discusses a very interesting Fair Housing Law case in Chicago regarding the right to post a mezzuzah vs. the Condo Associations rules.

    I must say that we are much more civil to each other here than the nasty bloggers over at the Wall Street Journal.

  33. Alex

    9/16/2008 at 5:59 pm

    Froylein, thanks for pointing out CK’s vision of the world, as if Hipsters choose to ride bikes to save the environment. Show me a NY winter, I’ll show you a cab waiting outside a Hipster’s house while they get ready.

    I ride a bike where ever I can. The absolute last reason I do so is to save the environment. I’d rather save my nuts.

  34. Anonymous

    9/17/2008 at 6:28 am

    From the point of view of American life and law, the girls on bikes are completely right.

    But let’s be honest and realize that American society is going down the toilet, and the Chassidim are right in pointing out that a large cause of this is blatant sexuality. Look at the creativity in music, film, photography, or advertising in general. Sex sells, and so the difficult craft of communication through media has given way to pushing nakedness on unsuspecting eyes and ears, and the craftsmanship of music- for example- has suffered.

    Some of you claim that this is about freedom, but it’s not freedom to give in to your primal instincts. You claim that Torah law is a ball-and-chain, but yet you’re so blind to the fact that your own hormones are a prison. You think it’s a coincidence that the divorce rate in America is insanely high? When a person is taught that they’re free to do whatever they want, and then the hot girl on the bike offers them an opportunity to cheat on their wife secretly, you really think that the person has the strength to make a true choice?

    The “freedom” that you advocate by allowing people to do whatever they want is ironically the very thing which strips away true freedom of choice, as it’s actually an insistence that we follow the laws of selfishness and primal instinct. We have enough internal pressure of cheating, having uncontrollable fantasies, etc. and it would be nice to have a truly spiritual environment, void of people who selfishly exploit our weaknesses- whether for personal attention or product sales.

    Your great-great-grandparents knew this by the time they were 5. You think you’re on to something new, or that you’re any smarter? hah!

  35. Alex

    9/17/2008 at 10:25 am

    “When a person is taught that they’re free to do whatever they want, and then the hot girl on the bike offers them an opportunity to cheat on their wife secretly, you really think that the person has the strength to make a true choice?”

    Absolutely. Any person that isn’t weak of course. That’s what separates us from animals after all, a conscience and rational thought. Who are you? The Imam who claimed uncovered women are like “spoiled meat”?

    If you can’t control your own urges on a personal level, then I suggest you live in a cage and give your master the key.

  36. Claire Petuck

    3/29/2012 at 12:30 pm

    Everyone should read “Unorthodox” by Deborah Feldman. It is shocking that such a community thrives in the middle of NY. Their schools teach nothing but religion and one “English Class” says Feldman. Women are treated just as they are in the Middle East, as third class citizens!!….They get three years of so-called “high” school and then an arranged marriage and baby making!!!! Was appalled that we in the USA who worry so much about women’s rights all over the world and say nothing about this. This is an awful and very repressive “religion”. It is abuse in the name of “religion”!!

  37. EditorJP

    3/29/2012 at 6:18 pm

    “This is an awful and very repressive “religion”. It is abuse in the name of “religion”!!”

    Calm down Claire.

    Your reply is almost as over-wrought as Feldman’s over-exagerated articles and books. You need to save your energy to defend your islamic friend’s about “honor killings”…

    • Claire Petuck

      7/30/2012 at 8:25 pm

      I’m not defending Islam! That too is an awful “religion”! I am defending the right of every woman to not be bullied by some archaic teachings written by a bunch of men, which should no longer be relevant in this century…………..

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