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Williamsburg vs. Williamsburg

Two weeks ago, the City removed bike lanes in South Williamsburg, a primarily Hassidic community. Influential parts of the Hassidic community have been vocally unhappy about the lanes attracting scantily clad women bikers and bikers who don’t follow traffic laws. … Read More

By / December 16, 2009

Two weeks ago, the City removed bike lanes in South Williamsburg, a primarily Hassidic community. Influential parts of the Hassidic community have been vocally unhappy about the lanes attracting scantily clad women bikers and bikers who don’t follow traffic laws. Simon Weisser, a member of Community Board 1, tells the Post, "I have to admit, it’s a major issue, women passing through here in that dress code. It bothers me, and it bothers a lot of people."

Last week, two self-identified "self-hating Jewish hipsters" were arrested for repainting and stenciling the bike lanes back onto Bedford Ave. These Jews represent the thousands of secular (or simply less observant than Hassadic) Jews who are part of the flux of hip, scantily clad  and cost-conscious people moving into areas that are historically Hassadic enclaves. The lane removal has prompted outcry from bike activists and there have been lots of jabs made at the Hassidic community. Moshe Goldberger, a Hassid, complained to the Post that "unauthorized painting on New York City property is unlawful, but that is overlooked because it’s committed against the terrible Hasidim." The battle between two of Brooklyn’s most controversial and discussed subcultures- hipsters and Hasidim- leads me to ask questions that I don’t have answers for. First, what public actions and statements are considered Jewish? In all articles I saw on the story, only the Hasidim are written about as Jewish and their perspective is presented as the Jewish voice about the subject. What would it mean if the bike lane advocates did re-paint the streets not as "self-hating hipster Jews", but as proud Jewish rabble-rousers, who might be less observant but saw their protest as Jewish? Second, how can progressive Jews lovingly challenge Jews from all observance level, ethnicity, country or class, while acknowledging nuance, i.e., the right for community control vs. sustainable transportation?

 

This post originally appeared on JSpot.org and is reprinted with permission. 

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