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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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Comments

Wow Professor very interesting. Those Orthodox are powerful allies against secular debasement of Morals & Values. The potent weapon of inevitable demographics will win over a foe commited to suicide every time. The key being dont allow your offspring to be turned with other cultural toxins.

    Aridog in reply to secondwind. | June 19, 2012 at 11:36 am

    The key being don’t allow your offspring to be turned with other cultural toxins.

    I am certain you meant this as a positive statement that parents should reinforce morals & values in their children. I certainly agree with that. However, as written, do you realize how perfectly parallel it is with what strict Islamists teach in Muslim communities of various types?

    I don’t think “shield your eyes” is way to promote intellectual pursuit. Build a foundation and encourage curiosity would seem better … and was definitely my experience in night school years ago where most of my classmates were Jewish, observant, and among the brightest people I’ve had the pleasure of working with anywhere. They were not “turned” and remained observant.

      Clarification: l mean dont allow toxins from other cultures (secular) to turn your children. ln that context l sympathize with with Moslems. l suspect alot ot our probems with them involve the sewage aspect of our culture. None of these people remove themselves entirely. Many work in Manhatten. Many live in diverse nieghborhoods. Even the Amish have limited interaction. lts up to each community to decide. Live & let live. lndividuals leave these communitys all the time,

      TrooperJohnSmith in reply to Aridog. | June 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm

      Or… as my mother used to say, “Nothing corrupts good morals and a fine upbringing like bad company.”

As a non-Jew, I’ve long been puzzled by the apparent divide between the Haredim and the Orthodoxy. The Haredim reportedly reproduce themselves at much greater rates than secular Jews or various non-Haredim, but otherwise observant Jews. Might that not explain the increasing population outside Manhattan versus inside Manhattan?

Manhattan is a commercial heartland, why would any religious group seek to discourage participation? Some of the best and most reliable retail outlets are in Manhattan, many of them owned and operated by observant Jews. I’d hope these outlets will remain in Manhattan.

    Milhouse in reply to Aridog. | June 21, 2012 at 2:07 am

    They’re not discouraging participation in commerce; they’re warning people of the need to shield their eyes from the filth that can be seen on the streets in Manhattan. This isn’t about politics, or closing ones mind to ideas, it’s about protecting innocent people from seeing things that corrupt and coarsen the soul just by looking at them. “Guarding ones eyes” (שמירת ענים) is a virtue prized in Orthodox communities. See Job 31:1 and Proverbs 5.

    Milhouse in reply to Aridog. | June 21, 2012 at 2:12 am

    Oh, and there is no “apparent divide between the Haredim and the Orthodoxy”; haredim are Orthodox. There’s no hard definition of what a haredi is; it’s mostly a sociological designator, not a religious one. That’s why attempts to translate it into English fail. “Haredi” used to just mean “Orthodox”; the official Hebrew title of the Orthodox Union (which is the central organisation of Modern Orthodoxy, i.e. non-haredi) is “Hit’achdut haHaredim”, because back in the 1920s that’s what it meant. Nowadays “haredi” is an “I know it when I see it” kind of thing.

1. As Mark Steyn says, the future belongs to those who show up for it.

2. If these people won’t do family planning, the government has to do it for them. A future conclusion of Deep Progressive Thought? (Only applicable to people who work hard, obey the law, and educate their children.)

The notion seems ridiculous as soon as my mind formulates it—but I remember how, twenty years ago, the Left mocked the suggestion that “gay rights” legislation would lead to homosexual marriage.

3. The Hasid assembly that Nathan-Kazis describes concluded with a prayer. He ends his article with this:

The prayer’s words, sung 1,000 different ways, droned through the stadium like a decades-old modem struggling to connect.

What an amazingly foolish and smug perspective. They are trying to disconnect. Given the state of modern civilization, I see their point.

4. I disagree with the ultra-Orthodox version of society, but I don’t consider it crazy. What I consider crazy is Mike Bloomberg’s version of society.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | June 19, 2012 at 11:49 am

Strange. Orthodox Jews dominate commerce in the diamond district. Stroll down 47th street and you will see a lot of long beards, locks and curls, black hats, and dark clothing.

The sign seems to be discouraging Jews from visiting Manhattan, which goes against the economic interest of the Orthodox Jews who make their living there.

lf Obama /Hollywood agenda prevails in the coming election you will see more & more of this. There will be no option. As it happens Obamamind will try to repress it as they cannot allow options to their Utopia. Remember at the S. J. P. fundraiser he told them Hollywood was a chief advisor. Thats not a throwaway line as he & they seek to reshape America. The Ultra orthodox & those other of us in opposition stand in their path.

    TrooperJohnSmith in reply to secondwind. | June 19, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    One thing The Left has always understood is the relationship between cinema and culture change. Culture change in society only occurs when internal controls (morals, parenting), societal controls (manners, public decency) and institutional controls (religion, laws) are overcome. Cinema is a huge factor in this, and as we’ve seen with this medium, the camel has put his nose under the tent many times over the past 50 years: nudity, language, violence, secularism. It’s no accident that some of cinema’s greatest advances occurred under the Soviet and Nazi regimes.

    George Soros said its easier to change a government than a whole society, knowing that once he’s got the reins of power, the means to destroy the society are his.

    God bless this insurrection.

    Resist & Resolve!

I can’t speak to the merits of the conflict, but I can speak to the rising discourse between Americans.

What used to be restricted to personal thoughts or private conversations relative to certain groups of personal disdain are increasingly acted on overtly and publicly.

The seeds of hate, not so cleverly labeled as “tolerance”, have found fertile ground in the age of Hope & Change.

    Aridog in reply to Browndog. | June 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    I have always defined “tolerance” as that state of mind you express while looking for a big enough rock to kill the other guy with. I stole that from somebody, but can’t remember who.

I applaud efforts to avoid moral pollution. Catholics have the (forgotten) time-honored practice of “custody of the eyes.” This applies to billboards as well as Internet usage, of course.

Removing the Internet is extreme, though, as it is an invaluable resource. There are ways to use it, such as avoiding NY Post pages with their images, disabling images or movies in your browser, or installing a filter. For kids, the filter is essential. But many adults get addicted to porn.

It matters what you let into your eyes, into your house, into your neighborhoods. Imagine if all families regarded the threat of moral pollution as do these Jews.

    ThomasD in reply to JerryB. | June 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Sight is a gift from God. So the first look is from God. It is the second look that is a sin.

Evolutionary dysfunction has its consequences.

And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the sky and over all the beasts that tread upon the earth.”

Our first lesson on evolutionary principles. It was both friendly advise and a warning.

9thDistrictNeighbor | June 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm

My issue with Nathan-Kazis’ article is his assertion that the Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn are “poor, young, and religious”, while those in Manhattan are “rich, old and more secular.” That’s quite a sweeping generalization. The most Orthodox couple I know are Chabad, have four children with certainly more on the way; the husband is an MD and the wife is an Applied Behavior Analyst. Certainly not poor.

The billboard reminds me of the Sunday school song “Be careful little eyes what you see….” Perhaps if the sign were only in Hebrew it would not have gotten as much attention. I don’t think it is advising Jews not to participate but to “shield your eyes.” There’s all sorts of stuff in Manhattan (and on the Internet) I have no interest in seeing.

    great unknown in reply to 9thDistrictNeighbor. | June 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    If chareidi families are struggling financially, it is primarily because of the cost of education. Paying for religious school for each child can add tens of thousands of after-tax dollars per child per year to a family budget.

    And no, there is no option of using the public-school system, although they pay for it through taxes. It would be kinder to euthanize the child. I say that as somebody who tried to teach in a NYC high school.

    [I have long fantasized about what would happen if suddenly fifty thousand chareidi children would register for public school.]

    This is why chareidi families I know, where both parents are professionals [in one, for example, he is an MD, she is a prosthodontist] are still having difficulty making ends meet.

    Which is why school vouchers is such a critical issue in the chareidi community.

      Milhouse in reply to great unknown. | June 21, 2012 at 2:22 am

      If chareidi families are struggling financially, it is primarily because of the cost of education. Paying for religious school for each child can add tens of thousands of after-tax dollars per child per year to a family budget.

      Not just haredim; Modern Orthodox schools are much more expensive than haredi ones, so they’re even harder hit. MO families may be smaller than haredi ones, because of later marriage and laxer observance of restrictions on contraception, but their school bills are often higher.

      [I have long fantasized about what would happen if suddenly fifty thousand chareidi children would register for public school.]

      And Catholic ones. I have long said that the Jewish and Catholic schools should get together and do this. Tell all the parents to register their kids in public schools, and wait for the school board to come crawling to them begging for a reprieve. Then demand vouchers.

    To shield one’s eyes does not imply going blindly through the world any more than donning armor means one is to avoid combat. More the opposite, we use shields when confronting a threat.

Secularists are not having kids, and they are literally dying out everywhere in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand. The only real question is which religions will prevail.

The coming near extinction of secularism will be a very good thing and is much to be desired.

    Aridog in reply to bob sykes. | June 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    You do have a point, however, secularism seems to be self-propagating through lying to each other and calling it intellectual. That said, if religious population rates of fecundity are the measure, I regret to say the global winners will not be Jews or Christians. The competition relies upon keeping the majority of the population in poverty or nearly so, thus diminishing the impact of wealth on fecundity….reduction of which is reserved only for the ruling class or potentates. Maslow and his hierarchy of needs got it mostly right, and the religious dictators rely on assuring no one outside the ruling class achieves the level of Esteem or Self-Actualization.

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.

    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.

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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