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Monday, March 19, 2007

Lack of Accommodation, Take II

In a follow-up to the story I first posted about here:
A Montreal YMCA is removing frosted glass installed to protect the innocent eyes of young Orthodox Jewish students from scantily clad exercisers but the windows will be covered with blinds.

The decision will return the windows to their state before the frosted glass was installed at the request of the synagogue across the alley.

A poll showed about 72 per cent of YMCA members were satisfied with the solution of covering the windows with blinds, said Serge St-Andre, director of the Park Avenue YMCA.

“It was never our intention to hide women who are training,” Mr. St-Andre said at a news conference on Monday.

“We wanted to protect the privacy of our members while respecting the wishes of our neighbours.”

The YMCA is next to a synagogue where some young male students found the state of undress of some exercisers to be a distraction.

YMCA management tried to be good neighbours, allowing a member of the Jewish community to pay to have the windows frosted.

Renee Lavaillante, a female Y member, started a petition and complained about being hidden behind the frosted glass.

She was pleased with the decision, saying it was a matter of principle.
I said it when I posted on this the first time, and I'll say it again now. I don't understand why it was so difficult for the YMCA members to accommodate others by allowing the frosted window. It's hard to understand what they possibly could have given up had they allowed the window to remain in place, and shown a spirit of sensitivity and compromise to their neighbors.

A peek into what the motivation might have been of those who insisted the window come down can be seen in some of the disturbing comments at the site of the article I linked above. Here's a few fun ones:
Wayne H from Victoria, Canada writes: Well if its not the Muslims its the Jews on so on. I have nothing against in what they believe in. But I do think its time for all you people to stop telling us what we should or should not do.

R. M. from Regina, Canada writes: Now if that isn't just the frosting on the cake! Let's hope those little peekers (have to be careful how I spell that) keep their little minds on their work now!

Mary O'Hara from Toronto, Canada writes: No single one of the acts of "accomodation" by itself is a problem.
The problem arises when one after another, for one special group after another, accomodations are made which add a cost here, a hassle there, and eventually add up to a significant impact.
So, it's time to stop making accomodations, for anyone. That way all are treated equally. We have a historical standard of behaviour and norms, and without widespread pan-societal agreement the should not be changed due to the wishes of a special group.

Andrew Mendez from edmonton, Canada writes: We welcome these people into our country and we are expected to change our way of life to accomodate them, I'm so proud to be Canadian!

poida smith from Canada writes: this is just plain stupid.....what else is there to say......the Y must be "frightened" of offending a very, very, powerful group, that's the only explaination
Sweet.

75 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So petty it makes you wanna scream! But I guess that many people really think that way. First frosted glass and then the next thing you know everyone will beforced to give up ham and to eat matzoh balls and chopped liver . . .

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Andrew Mendez from edmonton, Canada writes: We welcome these people into our country and we are expected to change our way of life to accomodate them, I'm so proud to be Canadian!"

Right. . . Mr. "Mendez" is sooo much more Canadian than Canadian Jews.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous goyguy said...

"I don't understand why it was so difficult for the YMCA members to accommodate others by allowing the frosted window. It's hard to understand what they possibly could have given up had they allowed the window to remain in place, and shown a spirit of sensitivity and compromise to their neighbors."

How about this:

'I don't understand why it would be so difficult for the synagogue members to put up their own darn blinds. It's hard to understand what they possibly could have given up. No one looks out windows. And the sunlight could give the little tykes skin cancer, anyway. It would have shown a spirit of sensitivity and compromise to their neighbors rather than having them stared at by the horny little kids next door.'

12:28 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Wow. Goyguy, usually I find your comments to be incisive and on the money. I just find this one to be offensive.

12:32 AM  
Blogger Married and Navigating Jewish Brooklyn said...

No matter what their motivation might of been, if the members there do not wish to be behind frosted glass then they shouldn't be forced to. Accomodations shouldn't be forced upon anyone. While it was nice for the YMCA in the beginning to allow it, their members have apparently spoken concerning the issue and have the right to do what they will.

Orthomom, you are right, why couldn't they just allow the frost glass to continue? However, its the fact of the world that people will constantly do this and we need to remember we are in golus and not in control of the society around us. It is us who needs to learn to shelter ourselves, not force the outside world to shelter itself before us.

1:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goyguy, your comment is as offensive as the ones in the article om quoted. I am not impressed.

1:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think his point was that the accomodation should have been done by the people with the problem, by putting the blinds on the synagogue windows and not the Y.

1:28 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Anonymous said...

I think his point was that the accomodation should have been done by the people with the problem, by putting the blinds on the synagogue windows and not the Y


I understood his point. I thought it was made offensively.

And I still maintain that I don;t see why leaving teh frosted window up at the Y caused any difficulty to the Y's customers. They made it very clear that they objected to it on a matter of principle, and I find that objectionable - and sad.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Ari Kinsberg said...

i resent when jews (from either end of the spectrum) expect me to do something to suit their needs/expectations. yes, sometimes on principle. and i'm jewish. i can imagine how a non-jew would feel.

at the risk of being branded "offensive" like goyguy, the shul (or school?) in question has the option of relocating.

3:00 AM  
Blogger RR said...

Sure, having frosted glass doesn't seem to be a big deal, but I see the gym's point. I agree with Ari. I'm a religious Jew, yet I think if the yeshiva was the one with the problem, then the yeshiva should have put the blinds on its own windows rather than making the gym accomodate them.

3:36 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I live in an apartment where the kitchen, my primary source of "view" to the street, has frosted windows. At first I found this to be great, because they let in light, but I never have to worry about whether the neighbors can see in. But lately I've been very much wishing that there wasn't a barrier between me and my view of the "outside world." Being able to SEE out the window actually does make a difference.

I think the idea of frosted windows on the gym, paid for by the synagogue, was a nice compromise as far as it went. It prevents the shule members from being exposed to "inappropriate" sights even while they are walking to the shule, not just while they are in it. But since the gym members obviously want the option of seeing out the windows, or (understandably, in my opinion) do not appreciate the suggestion that there is something so unholy about them that it's wrong to look at them (because that IS the message, even if we would like to phrase it differently in our minds), the synagogue members really should just intall frosted windows at their end and let the matter drop. And the gym members should install the blinds and let the matter drop.

As for GoyGuy's comment, there are clearly two issues going on here. The first is whether one agrees that seeing women in latex and bikini tops working out is something that young men should be barred from seeing. The second is, given that this synagogue says "no, it isn't," how can they reach a reasonable compromise with their neighbors.

It looks to me like people's condescending attitude's about Orthodoxy and sexuality (and sometimes, anti-Semitism or xenophobia) are coloring their ideas about what makes a good neighbor.

4:22 AM  
Anonymous sarah said...

What I meant was "given that this synagogue says 'yes, it is' . . . "

4:24 AM  
Blogger eem said...

Sarah-No one is saying that they're too unholy to look at. Not at all. Rather, that for teenage boys (any boys), seeing women dressed in latex workout clothing turns their minds to women. And it's not because they're more 'horny' than anyone else- it's because for a religious man, that distraction is something he would rather not have. The point isn't that they are more easily distractable than the average guy, the point is that they actually mind. There is nothing "unholy" about them at all.People react very quickly that way without realizing what the point is.

5:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you read the first article it is very clear that this was opposed on principle, because the members of the gym did not want to be told what to do. I agree with OM that if people just tried to be more accomodating life would be much more pleasant for all involved.

As far as the yeshiva putting up blidns, that wouldnt solve the problem the yeshiva is trying to deal with. the entrance to the yeshiva is right across a small alley from the huge picture window. these students walk to and from the bus and into the building. walking by the window thy saw scantily clad windows at every turn. It'sone thing to say about chassidic adults that they should be controlled enough to look away, but these are kids. the school was trying to reach a mutually amenable solution to what they viewed as a major problem.

The gym said yes, and the window went in. only when a few members complained about the window ON PRINCIPLE (and yes, they didnt even try to deny that) did it come down.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think I call them a certain B word that rhymes with spigot?

If I did, should I be expecting a lawsuit or am I just excercising my First Amendment right?

Any strike suit lawyers reading this...IM JUST KIDDING.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Ari Kinsberg said...

eem:

"it's because for a religious man, that distraction is something he would rather not have."

nobody is denying this.

"The point isn't that they are more easily distractable than the average guy, the point is that they actually mind."

i think the point is that orthodox jews (or muslims or christians) don't have the right to expect their neighbors of a different faith to conform to their own religous attitudes/standards.

maybe this happens in ramat bet shemesh (though it should not), but we are talking montreal here.

8:04 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...


i think the point is that orthodox jews (or muslims or christians) don't have the right to expect their neighbors of a different faith to conform to their own religous attitudes/standards.

maybe this happens in ramat bet shemesh (though it should not), but we are talking montreal here.


Ari, I think you are wrong. No one is asking the gym members to wear burkas or snoods and long skirts when they exercise. They asked for a small accommodation, received it graciously, and then some members opposed the accommodation "on principle". Said gym members are entitled to be principled about not wanting to accommodate a respectful request, but I am entitled to think that shows mean-spiritedness and a lack of neighborliness.

Let me also point out that though they might be disappointed, the Yeshiva apparently isn't making a big deal out of this. I don't see anything in the story about them burning ellipticals or rioting in the street. So it isn't as if they are making this demand that they expect to be kept at all costs.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Ari Kinsberg said...

"They asked for a small accommodation"

you are viewing the matter from your perspectve (which of course you can, especially on your own blog) and accordingly you consider this a small accommodation. but they don't.

"No one is asking the gym members to wear burkas or snoods and long skirts when they exercise."

from their perspective, you might as well have.

"a respectful request"

the issue here is not the tone of the request, but the nature of the request.

"the Yeshiva apparently isn't making a big deal out of this"

kol ha-kavod

8:56 AM  
Blogger Yamamah said...

If the catholic school opposite my house finds it offensive when I light my chanukah menorah, do they have the right to ask me to frost my windows to prevent my practice from reaching their impressionable catholic kids? Sure, they can ask, but I would certainly say no ON PRINCIPAL. If you dont want to see something going on in your neighbor's property, frost your own windows, not your neighbors.

The Yeshiva did nothing wrong by making the request, and I similarly do not see any problem with the gym members' refusal on principal. They are putting their feelings on the matter above those of their neighbors. While that may not be the most accommodating position, it is one they are reasonably entitled to.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are entitled, but om is merely (correctly) pointing out that they are showing an unfortunate lack of sillingness to compromise. Sad what the world has come to.

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Al Gore said...

i think the point is that orthodox jews (or muslims or christians) don't have the right to expect their neighbors of a different faith to conform to their own religous attitudes/standards.

Ain't that the truth? If these sort of accommodations are allowed to continue, I believe there will be no end to them. Take this news story for instance, Muslim cashiers won't ring up pork products. In this story, the faith requirements of a vocal minority are interfering with their customer service duties.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Yamamah said...

I don't see it that way at all. This is what the world is today, and scantilly clad women in gyms with windows facing the public is considered the norm. If someone doesn't like it, they need to figure out a method to deal with it. Asking the group that conforms with societal norms at large to hide behind frosted glass is not a method likely to be met with approval from the majority. Nothing wrong with asking, but I don't think you have any right to expect accommodation.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Observer said...

2 points: First of all, this wasn't a Crunch, Bally's or other commercial gym, it was a YMCA, a religiously affiliated organization. Nice to see that that a Christian religious organization (or subsidiary thereof) was sensative to the needs of another religious community. 2,000 years of history aside (and ignoring the poor role played by the YMCA in Yerushalayim), quite refreshing that YMCA tried to make this accomodation and their sensativity should be applauded.
Second -- I have seen how some woman women dress in skimpy outfits to work out. I enjoy seeing it. But that is because I tend to objectify good looking woman in a way that is not appropriate. I recognize that I do that -- it is one of my faults. Why knock people who don't want to be put in such a position. The yeshiva/shul at issue (apparently) didn't "demand" that the YMCA cover its windows or threaten or file a lawsuit, they made a request that was considered and there was an attempt to compromise in good faith. Kudos all around. A lesson for Ms. Greenbaum perhaps?

9:47 AM  
Blogger Yamamah said...

I don't knock the Yeshiva at all. In fact I laud their moral, religious, and educational position. Were it my kids' Yeshiva, I would hope to see the same request made. I do, however, also understand and respect the feelings of the scantilly clad women.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

Here's my question: Why was this a story anyway? It's basically a non-violent dispute that was settled amicably enough between two neighbors. What's next, an update on how Shmuel trimmed his hedges as per Shimon next door's request?

My point is that the decision to cover this story is provocative in and of itself. The editors of the non-Jewish papers, (and may the Jewish papers as well), as engaging in feckless voyeurism.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous jax said...

I agree that it was a small accomodation for the gym to make. However, we Jews are not always selective in asking for accomodations. We sometimes contribute to our own reputations as being pushy. Combine that with Caucasian/Christian/nativist resentment of being besieged by other cultures and you get unreasonable responses.

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have not owned a TV for over 25 years, so I do not keep up with the shows. Recently I had an out of state trial and in the evening I watched TV. I am disappointed how sleazy TV has become. Sex sells ad space.
I was happy that the Mayors of NYC cleaned up 42nd Street, but am again dismayed that Victoria Secrets has some really risque and giant window in mid-town.

The more I live the more truth I see in Rav Dessler's expanation of AMERICA. He said each country's name describes its "mahus" and he said America means an "Am Reca" or an a shallow people. What kind of people think the flaunting of their body is so important. The Y built the picture for business.
I for one am a happy Yid that Victoria Secrets moved out of our town. When I was a boy it was pretty darn hard to get a copy of a Playboy now you can see this stuff in the malls or with free county wide internet access what can we expect? How obnoxious to call Yeshiva boys "horny little peekers" This is nothing but a sad commentary as to where the US and the world is going. Wow let us take up the battle cry for aryos.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OM - are you going to tonight's school board meeting?

3:04 PM  
Anonymous looking at a red flag said...

Scarier than the whole issue at hand are the comments that OM quoted...look how quickly we become "THEM"...antisemitism, like it or not is on the tip of the tongues of more people than we would like to admit. It needs such a small incident to bring it out in such full force! That's the scary part. If anyone is ever driving on Broadway in woodmere, you can see the people in Southwest (or is it Southbeach) fitness club working out by the window. That't clearly not the issue here. It's being called "those little peekers" it's being referred to as "a very, very, powerful group" that's what's scary here!

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone read/hear about "Hooters" opening in Tel Aviv?
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070319/od_uk_nm/oukoe_uk_hooters_israel

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the gym and the people who commented were completely reasonable.

Why do jews have this arrogance that people must accommodate their religious needs, simply because it wouldn’t be that much of a burden?.

Its your religion, not theirs, you figure out a way to solve the problem.

No one likes it when people bother them with religion or impose religion on them.

It may have been easy to accommodate, but who cares? If the gym wants it a certain way that should be the end of the conversation. It quite presumptuous to think people need to accommodate you.

Considering how stereotypically annoying and hypersensitive the jews came off in this story, its a wonder that the comments werent even more critical.

4:01 PM  
Blogger rebba shlita said...

this reminds me of a your post about the lubavitch rabbi who wanted a menorah up in the airport next to the x-mas trees.
those comments are on the mark. why couldnt the yeshiva put shades up. why are we always acting like such babies. this is why we are hated so much. its time that we all grow up and remind ourselves that we are in galus, and that this is not our land.
if the people at the Y want fresh sunlight they have all the right to it.
by the way rabbi schers shul had a curves open right next door to them, the shul eventually bought the building and did not renew the lease.

4:11 PM  
Blogger YMedad said...

Well, besides introducing OM to the story, if anyone wants a similar problem to discuss, we can always go here and
here. But the real question, as alluded to in a rather blunt fashion by GoyGuy, is when a society adopts questionable standards of ethical and moral behavior that that society itself would not have accepted a few years ago, i.e., incremental licentiousnous, and then attempt to justify that behavior by blaming innocent (I hope) Yeshiva kids who do not want to be a part of that level of sexual mores. The "public square" does not have to allow scantily clad persons to be seen and observed even if the person is inside "private" property. And while I thought the suggestion that it behooved the Yeshivah administration to put up blinds, along came the calrification that the activity was observable from the walkway between the two buildings. Accommodation doesn't need to become a mandatory principle but should rather be a guide to coexistence. The men and women exercising do not "need" to be show-offs and have themselves ogled from outside their windows whereas the school pupils, and I would presume that a Catholic school would have acted the same, due to their age (and not only because of the special Jewish values) and the fact that they deal in educational fashioning. Those inside are not forced to cover up or, for example's sake, to eat kosher, but simply to continue what they are doing in or out of latex or whatnot but without being on display.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous farrockgrandma said...

Aren't we forgetting something?
A yeshiva does not choose a location with a view of a beach or boardwalk where the public is strolling around in bathing suits.
The YMCA patrons are exercising in outfits that they know are not suitable for a public street. How many of them are dressed this way travelling to and from the exercise class?
How nice that they want sunlight and a view of the street while they grunt and stretch!
Why not frost the bottom half, or two-thirds, of the window?
That way they could let in the sun, and passersby would watch only if they stuck their noses right up to the window.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"Wow. Goyguy, usually I find your comments to be incisive and on the money. I just find this one to be offensive."

You know OM -- I disagree. Goyguy does tend to be incisive and on the money, which is why I trust his judgement here, too.

Why couldn't the yeshiva frost its own windows and nail 'em shut? Isn't the whole 'accomodate everyone' ideology getting a bit out of hand?

Should it only be right when it specifically suits Orthodox Jewish sensibilities, or the sensibilities of others when they suit our personal needs?

Personally, I am VERY uncomfortable with Muslim sensibilities when it comes to their extreme seperation of the sexes, which includes mandating that women are covered from head to toe and remain subserviant to men; total opposition to most forms of media, and most of all; their attitudes about terrorism, Jews and Israel.

I am personally VERY uncomfortable with Gay interests as they pertain to insisting on outrageous lengths of political correctness; gay marriage and adoption, and; the astoundingly perverse lasciviousness celebrated during the Gay Parade, and; society's timidity to refuse the demand for more and more accomodations for the Gay lifestyle.

And does anyone else share my disgust with the violence and vandalism that comes along with the Dominican Day parade? Yet, when 5th Ave property owners erect barricades along the front of their buildings to prevent revelers from stomping and peeing on their flower beds, or when store owners close thewir stores and put down their iron gates to prevent being robbed and mobbed by drunken animals, the marchers object. Are we all obligated to tolerate such misbehavior?

Tolerance has to go both ways. How far must we go to accomodate everyone? Why must the mainstream always have to bend for the minority?

If my daughters or wife exercised at this YMCA, I'd prefer the windows be frosted. I believe women have a right to insist on their own privacy. That's not tolerance. That's simple respect for humaninty.

If these gym members feel otherwise, then I'd recommend my family take their business to another gym.

But if the yeshiva next door has a problem, too, then the onus is on the yeshiva.

People need to take at least partial responsibility for their own arbitrary sensibilities. If we stand by as they don't, then we may as well resign ourselves to one slippery slppe that has no bottom.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Yamamah said...

Grandma --

Bcz they dont want to, they dont have to, and you cant make them. They are doing nothing wrong and dont owe anyone any favors.

If you wear short sleeves or do not cover your hair in the comfort of your own kitchen, and your next door neighbor sees you through the window and is offended by the sight of your bare elbows or hair and asks you to frost your windows, would you do so? Or would you think they have chutzpah to impose their level of tznius on you and tell you how to behave in your own home?

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*People need to take at least partial responsibility for their own arbitrary sensibilities. If we stand by as they don't, then we may as well resign ourselves to one slippery slppe that has no bottom.*

Granted. But in this case, the Yeshiva did. They did not threaten, sue etc, they merely requested a simple accomodation from their neighbors, and even paid for the frosted glass themselves.
The gym had absolutely no responsibilities here, and the Yeshiva had no rights. That is clear.
What OM is trying to bring out, however, is that neighborliness begins where rights and resposibilities end.
We would all do well to consider that.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Granted. But in this case, the Yeshiva did. They did not threaten, sue etc, they merely requested a simple accomodation from their neighbors, and even paid for the frosted glass themselves."

How neighborly ... they didn't sue? Give me a break.

The gym had absolutely no responsibilities here, and the Yeshiva had no rights. That is clear.
What OM is trying to bring out, however, is that neighborliness begins where rights and resposibilities end.


The yeshiva should have worked out a solution on their side of the property. Rights and responsibilities sound nice on paper. But when they are applied to accomodating other people's sensibilities, it becomes very hard to discern where the tolerance starts and stops.

For instance, every year before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, thousands of chickens are held hostage in crates, on hot city streets so Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn can line up to swing chickens over their heads. There is nothing about this scenario that is OK. It is cruel, it is weird and disturbing, and above all it is disgusting to house filthy livestock on an urban street. And yet, in the name of tolerance, it is tolerated. But I don't tolerate that any more than I tolerate muslims slaughtering goats in the city proper for the Id Al-Adha celebration. And yet, that should be their right. and who would you be to object? and, yes, the comparison is apt because I'm concerned with slippery slopes.

We would all do well to consider that.

I already have. In depth. See above.

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoy working out, and to look out at nature and its beauty is an added plus, I would NOT want frosted windows on my workout view. Sorry for the shul or yeshiva next door, I can symphatize as a mother of many teen-aged boys---nevertheless the shul has to make accomdations through another exit, pathway or something..

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so many people have confused the whole matter. if this isn't orthomom's stance (i think it is) then it ought to be:

1. no one is saying yeshiva people should legally have the right to force the YMCA to do anything. the yeshiva never said anything like that.

2. many here have failed to grasp the DIFFERENCE B/W A DEMAND AND A REQUEST. the yeshiva did not demand the YMCA do anything. some people seem bothered, even outraged, that the yeshiva would make this request. what possible problem is there asking your neighbor in a pleasant manner if they're willing to accomadate you in a way that, at most, minorly inconveniences them?

3. people here have all but ignored the protestors self-expressed reason for making a fuss. 'principle' But there is no principle to stand on when it is a request made and not an obstinate/arrogant demand or a lawsuit. it's just plain old being a jerk b/c you dont like the other person.

12:15 AM  
Anonymous jmaimarc said...

Just out of curiosity, which was there first, the yeshiva or the Y? I would think that the newer venue would have to be the more accommodating one, as a matter of protocol.

Another point from the article that was missed by some commenters was that the frosted glass was paid for by a private party, not the yeshiva nor the Y. Was that person refunded his money because of the Y's flip-flop?

5:43 AM  
Anonymous HAGTBG said...

It was reasonable to the yeshiva to make the request (and I doubt the boys in the yeshiva made the request or were offended, not that it matters).

It was reasonable for the private donor to front the money.

It was reasonable for the YMCA to accept the offer.

It was reasonable for patrons of the YMCA to complain.

It was reasonable of the YMCA to bow to its patrons desires and change position.

(Some of the comments posted by Orthomom were anti-religious.)

It is not for us to judge whether the inconvenience of others is minor, first, because we don't know how the other person feels. In this case also, some may view exercise as their luxury or treat for the day.

I do not understand why Orthomom feels put upon and/or is offended by their complaining. It is not itself evidence of bias. It is evidence of different norms.

The yeshiva can (i) tolerate the situation as is, (ii) build a wall, (iii) put in tinted windows, or (iv) build a new entrance.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that I am going to say anything that hasn't been said before, but I want to chime in with my $0.02.

There is that corny old adage - you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friends' noses. In that vane, it was nice that the school and the Y could work things out, but in reality its the school who should frost their windows.

For those that contend that the kids are tainted by the entrance to the school being opposite women in workout wear, I ask you this - how is this any different than if they are walking down the street in the summer? Or if their bus stop to get picked up is in front of another gym? Is it incumbent upon every last gym in the city to put up stained glass?

We can only go so far to protect our children. Even those that remove the Internet and TV from their homes try to take an extra step towards sheltering their kids from the harmful elements of those media, there is still no guarantee that they will be influenced elsewhere.

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hagtb: "It was reasonable for patrons of the YMCA to complain."

on what level was it reasonable? legal, yes.

but neighborly? i think the point is they explicitly said they're doing this on 'principle.' they dont like accomadating neighbors whose religious views they dont like and/or dont understand. basically, that's called being a jerk. dont see anything reasonable about that. they say themselves they lose nothing with the frosted windows but dont want to do anything that might be nice to their neighbors.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous HAGTBG said...

hagtb: "It was reasonable for patrons of the YMCA to complain."

on what level was it reasonable?


Why ask a question...

they dont like accomadating neighbors whose religious views they dont like

... if you give a perfectly good potential answer yourself.

Here's others:

* They like looking outside;
* They like as much sunlight as possible;
* They like being looked at;
*They don't like being made to feel like sex objects/pieces of meat to be covered up so others don't salivate; or
* They feel yeshiva students are inappropriately repressed.

Some are more or less legitimate than others. But we are talking about the rights of patrons in an establishment, i.e. private property. Their reasonable feelings may not please us but they still can fall well short of Orthodox bashing.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous goyguy said...

orthomom said...

Wow. Goyguy, usually I find your comments to be incisive and on the money. I just find this one to be offensive.

12:32 AM


Sorry if anyone was offended, although I'm not sure by which part.

You stated that "I don't understand why it was so difficult for the YMCA members to accommodate others by allowing the frosted window. It's hard to understand what they possibly could have given up had they allowed the window to remain in place." This is really a little off base. Windows and sunlight are a highly prized and valuable commodity in a big city. Someone who comes off a long shift in the cubicle mines in some big office building might want to not be back behind a wall in the gym. Obviously the patrons like it. Frosting the windows is not a small accommodation.

You said that covering the windows would show "a spirit of sensitivity and compromise to their neighbors." Compromise suggests that the school made a sacrifice here, too. What did they give up? Other than girl watching. I'm sure the gym was a distraction, but let's get real, here. EVERYTHING outside a classrooms window is a distraction to a school kid. If there was a city park there would a 20 ft fence be an appropriate accommodation, so the kids don't see the pretty girls sunbathing?

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for being neighborly on a personal level.I once owned a piece of property in an Orthodox area and a neighbor asked if a pole could be erected on my property as part of an eruv. Sure, why not? You hardly noticed the thing. (although some of the neighbors sure noticed) But remember that the Y has a lot of people that use the place and you can't please anyone. I'm sure that some of the patrons loved the frosted glass. I mean, everyone doesn't want to be gawked at while they are at the gym, I wouldn't.

You also said:

“They made it very clear that they objected to it on a matter of principle, and I find that objectionable - and sad.”

and

"a peek into what the motivation might have been of those who insisted the window come down can be seen in some of the disturbing comments at the site of the article”

In reality the only person in the article who said it was about some principle was Renee Lavaillante. There are many reasons people might want the frosting removed as noted by another poster above. I would be surprised if many of the people who signed the petition did so over principle. Do you think that she approached people with a petition that said 'Don't let those Jews push us around'? Even if that's what she was thinking? What would she care about their motivations as long as they signed on the dotted line.

The opinions in the comments section have no bearing on this story. I doubt many people in Victoria or Toronto signed the petition. Your remark unfairly implies that the people signing the petition are cranky, ignorant, a**holes like some of the posters. Maybe, maybe not. But if they weren’t thinking like that before, after reading your comment, they would probably be a little offended themselves if all they wanted was a little sunlight.

12:03 AM  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

My initial reaction to this story was a question. Which organization was there first? It plays a role in this.

If the yeshiva moved in after the YMCA they would bear responsibility for placing themselves in that situation.

In any case, I understand why the members of the YMCA would be upset about this. It comes across badly.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it can difficult to part of a sub-culture whose values are different from the community's norms. Yes, we all could try to be a little more respectful of others especially when their are religious implications.

I can, however, tell you that I frequently experienced more significant and explicit intolerance at the hands of my fellow jews who consider me to be too modern in my orthodox practices.

Just recently, I was traveling to Muncie to visit some of my relatives and ended up the wrong house. When I knocked in the door the occupants refused to open the door or even to make eye contact with me through a glass window.

Obiviously, they could tell I was Jewish and hardly a threat, but they treated me as if I was an "alien" because my cloths did not match the 19th century style.

I hear this a lot from my friends. In fact we often feel we are more resented than the goyum for whom there is a lower expectation.

I cannot tell you how insulting this is. We have a lot of work to rid our own community of intolerance towards each other.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this has to be the most ridiculous thing i have ever heard!! the YMCA should allow their windows to be frosted so the little jewish boys are not exposed?? why isnt the yeshiva frosting THEIR windows instead. why should the MO expect that their needs are tantamount to all others? is it any wonder the world hates us??

8:01 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

I think I should weigh in to this.

There is a certain standard of dress and decorum that is expected in public. I do not think that it is right to have anything that violates that standard present in a way that it can be seen from a public street. I don't think that anyone here thinks that standard workout clothing is suitable for walking down a street, thus I do not think it appropriate at all that a workout room be placed with a large window facing the public street. I also think that swimming pools should not be placed with an open entery to the public street because the level of decorum is not suitable for walking down the public street. This are their own standards I"m talking about here, not orthodox standards. To me, it seems like a similar issue to a man or woman walking around in her front room in his/her underwear when there are large windows facing the street. I don't care much why they are there, the fact is that if they are there, the windows need to be shut. People have been prosucuted for indecent exposure as a result of this.

as such I do not think that it was at all reasonable that they protest the frosted glass on the street. If you are not willing to walk down the street in such clothing, I do not think that it is appropriate to be in a room with an open window that faces public throughfare.

facing the back side of the building is ok, because that isn't public throughfare. Facing the side of the building is ok, but facing the front is clearly not ok.

THis is basic human decency, not religious thought.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous in Teaneck said...

halfnutcase and others - what do you think the women are wearing, that you "don't think that anyone here thinks that standard workout clothing is suitable for walking down a street?" I don't know what women wear where you live, but in Teaneck women wear yoga pants, shorts, tank tops, sweats, t-shirts - all attire that can be worn on the street. Unless they're exercising in thong bikinis, your statement that "it seems like a similar issue to a man or woman walking around in her front room in his/her underwear when there are large windows facing the street" is a bit off.

11:17 PM  
Blogger ChayaLife18 said...

So let's assume that the women training at the YMCA are wearing the skimpiest of clothes normally found in a gym -- a sports bra and boy-short training pants.

If the synagogue is having a problem with its students gawking at the women, the synagogue should, as someone said above, put up its own darn blinds.

I completely understand the irritation with frosted windows. Unlike blinds or shades, the transparency can't be altered. If classes at the synagogue end at 6:00 p.m. and the gym is open until 8:00 p.m. blinds would allow the Y to change the way light enters their gym.

(I generally feel this way about matters of modesty and temptation. It's the responsibility of the person who is tempted/may become tempted to mitigate the circumstances. Even us more liberal Jews have such encounters. Since giving up pork, I stay away from my formerly favorite breakfast haunt, which always smells like bacon. It's not their responsibility to change their menu.)

--Chaya
www.ayecha.blogspot.com

11:31 PM  
Blogger ChayaLife18 said...

OK, I couldn't resist. Somehow this post set me off on a feminist rant about modesty (a pretty well-written one, though!) and my own blog is a better place for it than the comments section here.

http://ayecha.blogspot.com/2007/03/making-accomodations-for-modesty-why.html

3:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it is acceptable to cover up for the former President of the United States, why not for a yeshiva?

From
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/23/nyregion/23spinning.html?ei=5090&en=668dd476569707e3&ex=1332302400&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

Among the unusual details of this most unusual fund-raiser is that everyone was given a long-sleeved white cotton T-shirt to wear over workout clothes. Usually people wear as little as possible for spinning, which involves riding a bike in standing and seated positions, and at alternating levels of resistance, while music plays.

“People tend to wear sexy spandex outfits with midriffs showing,” Ms. Krupp said. “But in deference to the president, we wore these shirts that said, ‘Exercise Your Vote.’ ”

RWM

3:48 PM  
Anonymous goyguy said...

"If it is acceptable to cover up for the former President of the United States, why not for a yeshiva?"

Acceptable? Mandatory. When the former President is a snake in the grass like Bill Clinton a suit of armor would be safer ;-)

8:58 PM  
Blogger Abbi said...

"I don't think that anyone here thinks that standard workout clothing is suitable for walking down a street, thus I do not think it appropriate at all that a workout room be placed with a large window facing the public street."

HNC: You've never seen a woman jogging in biking shorts and a tank top on the street? Where do you live?

6:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

orthomom... please rethink about what you said concerning the YMCA making accomodations for their nneighbors....If a muslim neighbor moved next door to you and insisted that you act or dress a certain way so as not to offend them....how would yu react? this is america....why are you so hellbent on everyone accomodating our sensitivities? If the school is upset over the clothing( or lack thereof) let them shutter their windows and further instruct their youth to look away from any temptation.. you teach children more by that example than by changing the environment to suit them... if they really want to be sequestered, let them move to an area with total isolation.. the real world should NOT accomodate for us nor should we accomodate for them...

9:42 AM  
Anonymous goyguy said...

Anonymous said... 9:42 AM

"the real world should NOT accomodate for us nor should we accomodate for them..."

The 'real' world? Do you live in the 'unreal' world? ;-)

I agree with your point in general as I have said above.I do think that to say that people "should NOT' make accomodations is a little extreme. Certainly people should not be FORCED to change their behavior to suit others if that behavior is not illegal. I don't see the problem with making nice with your neighbors when you WANT to. I mean, some people don't really mind at all. Even if it's a small bit of inconvenience to do so. If a Jewish cop wants to switch shifts with someone so the other guy can be off on Christmas, is that a bad thing? If a Catholic family with Jewish neighbors is in the middle of remodeling their house, would it be wrong to tell the contractor to not work on Yom Kippur and give the neighbors some peace and quiet?

'this is america'

I'm with you there. That's really the point. (although the story did take place in Canada) The big reason people keep wanting to live here, or in Canada, is that for the most part, in most places, you can live, worship and educate your kids any way you see fit. As long as you don't bother everyone else. It's not a coincidence that half the Jews in the world live here. If this was in some other 'liberal' countries, instead of a starting a petition they might just as soon have burned the place down.

Countries like the US, Canada, and Australia are vast lands that have always required and encouraged immigration to grow and prosper. The centuries of various cultures blending together over time make them what they are. While it's true that we often are bothered by people that won't blend in, you can still pretty much live as you choose.

Contrast that with some places in Europe, for example. "Sure you can live here, just don't think you'll ever really be one of us." People aren't permitted to assimilate. Generation after generation sequestered in some crappy part of town. You can be sure that 150 years ago when Italians and Greeks and Jews and even worse, us Irish ;-) started spilling off the ships the average New Yorker was horrified to say the least. " Look at them with their funny clothes and wierd food and all those darn kids. And can't they learn to speak English?" They put us right to work digging those subways to get us a way out of Manhattan.

Eventually we all managed to survive and prosper mostly unmolested. Not by everyone bending over backwards to accomodate others, but more from living our lives without bothering everyone else. You do your thing. I'll do mine. If your neighbors want to be nice to you all the better, but don't think they should be obligated to do so.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 8:01 says it all

It's amazing how you orthodox are hated in every country you are in.
Oh thats right the rest of the world is anti-semitic. It has nothing to do with your arrogance expecting everyone to change for your benefit.Taking over neighborhoods and destroying school districts are something everyone should welcome with open arms. I would rather have a plague of locusts!!!

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear goyguy'
"If a Jewish cop wants to switch shifts with someone so the other guy can be off on Christmas, is that a bad thing? "

i agree with you if the key words here are "WANTS TO SWITCH". If the jewish cop demands a swap, knowing the demands of the job of a cop, he or she is wrong.. there is nothing wrong with ASKING if something can be mutually agreed upon... KNowing my neighbors here ( and probably in Canada) nothing was approached in that manner.. chances are it was a Demand. When you are a minority in any situation.. you act appropriately. you always accomplish more with honey than with drech.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous goyguy said...

I decided to follow the link in the post to the original mention of this in November, which then links you to the original news story. The details are much clearer.

The Y has been there for 100 years, the school since the 80's.

The gym was added 13 years ago. The windows do not face the street, but a rear alley.

The school DID tint their windows, but... "members say they haven't been able to stop people from opening them or heading outside during breaks."

That cracks me up. "We can't make our kids behave, so you have to do it for us, devil women. Even though you are corrupting our sons, we can't properly raise them without your cooperation."

Who the heck is running the place, the kids or the staff? How about this: "Attention, students. We have a new rule. Don't open the windows or hang out in the back alley. Failure to comply will result in expulsion with no tuition rebate." See if they behave then.

If a student at my kid's PUBLIC high school kept breaking the rules the staff would be all over them like white on rice.

Cell phone goes off in class? Give it up. Your parents can come for it.

Dressed too slutty? Cover it up or hit the bricks.

Smoking on school grounds? You're breaking the law. Next time maybe we'll call the cops.

Last week they had a kid arrested for possession of a fake drivers license on school grounds.

THAT'S how you run a school.

According to spokesman Mayer Feig:

“We don't want our kids to be tempted by today's society,”

“We have a belief in being dressed modestly, and we want our kids to see women dressed modestly,”

"In summertime, Hasidic children head off to a camp in the Laurentians to avoid seeing scantily dressed females on the street"

“There's too much violence and sexuality today, and our religious beliefs don't want us to see those things."

"We believe in protecting our culture and religion.”

Perhaps an urban setting is not the appropriate place to be raising your children if you feel that strongly. Might I suggest building a boarding school at that summer camp. Keep the young lads safely up there while mom and pop hang back in the big city and fight off the onslaught of exposed flesh.

12:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only a person who lacks any appreciation of modesty would kevell over the open sexism in the West. Yea goyguy that is you and your fellow staunch supporters. In 1940 if you walk on the Far Rockawy board walked in a bathing suit the plice gave you a $5 ticket. People were modest. That has all changed and do you really think as Torah Jews we should raise some banner of more rampant promiscuity. Who else is going to try to stem the tidal wave of filth and sex. Why is this so great? I would like to keep somethings hidden for my own sake and the sake of my fellow Americans. Modesty is a lost art. And the lady who thinks orthodox are hated all over the world because "we take over your schools." You have hated the sight on me and my friends since 1975 when we first crossed over Doughty Blvd. This has nothing to do with schools you just think you can blame us and not sound like the anti-semite of anti-orthodox (if you are jewish) that you are. Go ahead and continue to spew forth your vitriol and the budget will still go down this spring. If you ever stopped hating and tried not to run us over in street for the 30 minutes once a week maybe we could get along. Why don't you be happy about the lack of cars instead of honking. HOw long can you dump on us (what 25 years?) and think we will just put up your diminishing school population with ever increasing budgets. Do you think I am stupid?

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i stated that we are hated all over the world due to our belief that all the world should accomodate our needs and our attempts to control all around us,jew or not... I have nothing to do with the school system at all. couldnt care less... however, when a minority population tries to change everything in their path to control; i have a problem..

put yourself in the goyim's shoes...why should the ymca accomodate the jewish boys that would rather " play" than study torah.. the yeshiva should respect all around them---not DEMAND that all others adjust their behaviors to suit us jews needs of modesty.. how absurd of us to think the whole world need change to suit us.. THAT is why anti semitism continues.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous goyguy said...

Anonymous said...
5:55 PM

" Only a person who lacks any appreciation of modesty would kevell over the open sexism in the West. Yea goyguy that is you and your fellow staunch supporters."

Sexism? Defined as:
1 : prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially : discrimination against women

2 : behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

I'm quite sure I haven't made any comments about sexism one way or the other. But since you brought it up......nah, we'll save the sexism discussion for another day. Today is modesty, right?

Please point out to me where in any of my posts I have spoken against modesty? I take the position that the gym patrons, while being immodest, were certainly not doing anything illegal, and should be free to open or close their blinds as they see fit. If you choose to live somewhere that permits this type of public dress (or lack thereof), you will have to live with being exposed to it. If you want to have a dress code for walking the streets, and being seen from the streets, stop voting with your checkbook and vote with your moral values. Elect local officials that will pass ordinances regulating this. If the Village of Lawrence or Cedarhurst or wherever wants laws against showing too much skin, they can pass them. It's been done. Right here on LI a typical example would be Ocean Beach, the "Land of NO." The village code states:

§ 123-4. Indecent exposure prohibited. [Amended 8-24-1963; 5-2-1970; 12-12-1981 by L.L. No. 12-1981]
A. It shall be unlawful for any female person to appear in any public area or in any private area where she may be observed by anybody in a public area clothed or costumed in such a manner that the portion of her breast below the top of the areola is not covered with a fully opaque covering or in such a manner that her genitals, pubic area or buttocks are not covered with a fully opaque covering. It shall be unlawful for any male person to appear in any public area or in any private area where he may be observed by anybody in a public area clothed or costumed in such a manner that his genitals, pubic area or buttocks are not covered with a fully opaque covering.
B. No man shall appear on the public walks or in any public place or in any store or public building in the Business District, as established in the Zoning Ordinance of the Village of Ocean Beach, Editor's Note: See Ch. 164, Zoning. in topless bathing attire or any other article of clothing unless the chest is also covered.
C. No woman shall appear in the Business District, as established in the Zoning Ordinance of the Village of Ocean Beach, or in any store or public building in bathing attire, unless the bathing attire is concealed from above the breasts to the thighs.

I'm sure you would prefer something a little stricter than "portion of her breast below the top of the areola," but it's a start. If that's too much trouble and you don't like the moral values of the "West" you might try one of the Muslim countries in the "East". A girl there who shows a little immodesty will simply be beaten to death by her brothers and father. You can't take these things lightly you know. I would have suggested you visit Israel, however the official government travel website has a photograph of an immodestly dressed woman right there on the first page. Spandex bicycle shorts. Blonde hair flowing in the breeze Can you imagine? Right there in the Holy Land! So clearly that's not the place for you.

As far as the my "fellow staunch supporters" remark, a quick glance through the posts finds that maybe fifteen or twenty individual posters who take a similar position as I do identify themselves as being Orthodox. I would certainly expect that they consider their personal modesty to be an important part of their lives. It's just that they don't think they need to suggest everyone else how to live.

"In 1940 if you walk on the Far Rockawy board walked in a bathing suit the plice gave you a $5 ticket. People were modest"

Well, not everyone, or they wouldn't need those tickets, would they?

That's enough for now. I'm tired.

1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so now you want to tell people how to dress also? by the way i never tried to run you over but i love splashing the puddles when you are next to them

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