Heinous or Harmless?

Read: Fury at Hasidic dress codes.

Do you think store owners have the right to go above and beyond the standard “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service”? Or is it totally their call – if they don’t want business from people wearing clothes that do not adhere to their own modesty standards, should that be their choice?


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  1. Rachel Ann says:

    I guess if it is one’s own business one can make the rules.

  2. I don’t think they’re doing it to control everyone in the outside world (the way the article claims) – I think they’re just trying to control what goes on in their environment. Whether that is OK or not, depends on how you look at observant Judaism I guess.

  3. I’m not even Jewish, and I applaud them for insisting on their standards of modesty within the store walls. (If this were a hospital ER, I’d take issue with it – but it is a customer’s CHOICE to do business here, it’s not a government building or a publicly funded institution, it’s a PRIVATE BUSINESS. If you don’t like it, go to CVS or Walgreens or something. The owner’s insistence on this may cut into profits OR expand them, but I have NO problem with it, personally.

    I wish airlines would do the same.

  4. I mean, fancy restaurants can refuse service if people don’t adhere to dress code… so why not? Annoying, but why not?

    • They can, and often don’t. When they don’t, it annoys patrons who are looking for a certain elegant atmosphere and don’t get it.

      I think many customers, particularly older people, more modest people in general, and parents with young children will feel more comfortable with the higher dress standards. This doesn’t look AT ALL unreasonable to me – it’s not even as strict as my kids’ dress code at public school. People will get their dander up and make a fuss over anything, and it’s a bit silly – all this insistence on individual “freedoms” (such as the freedom to walk into a private business dressed in a bikini) erode the importance of more important rights and liberties. What about a private business’s right to conduct its business as it sees fit, within legal/ethical rules that protect its customers (like fraud prevention laws).

  5. Amanda Elkohen says:

    harmless. private businesses can set whatever standards they like and refuse to sell to anyone. if they want to limit their customer base and make less money, LET THEM!

  6. I agree that it’s their businesses & they can do as they please but unfortunately it probably doesn’t make us Jews look good as it probably gives all Orthodox Jews a bad name from ppl. who feel discriminated against b/c they are not allowed to enter these stores unless they are dressed appropriately (according to the store-owners definition of appropriate).

  7. Lisa Danton says:

    I’ve been chewing on this all morning. To disclose, I’m a pagan with some extensive liberal views trying to filter it through the idea of harm to none. But Holly makes a good point, this is a private business and you can choose to shop there or not. We have a right to live our culture. This is not government. But I wonder about tolerance, respect and compassion. Any time a “your not welcome here” message is given it makes me worry.

    • I think we should make a distinction here – how people DRESS is a choice. The color of their skin, their gender, etc. – the things we specifically prohibit being a basis for discrimination – are “immutable characteristics” – not matters of choice. This is not discrimination. I can go home and easily comply with this dress code. If it bothers me, there are other pharmacies where I can shop.

  8. ““It goes to the basic human value of empathizing with others that are not like you, and I think the Hasidim have no awareness of such a concept.” Amen.

    If they want to lose business, their choice. As a non-Hasid, I would not patronize a business whose owners felt it appropriate to tell me how to dress. Imagine a gentile-owned store saying no black hats, no burqas?? That would be anti-Semitism, Islamophobia. And yet this is somehow OK? I find this sort of thinking to be dangerously insular & offensively narrow.

    • MokumAlef says:

      I agree with you. But where does it stop??? I think none of these behaviors should be condoned. Because it is discriminatory, whoever does the excluding. If you don’t want to be in contact with the general public, you should not have a parnassa that demands that you are. Having said that, I know planty pleasant Hasidim who have a more open attitude. So, let them run the stores.

  9. J+1 says:

    They have the right to set whatever standards they want. Just like I have the right to shop anywhere I choose.

  10. fille says:

    Well, there are restaurants who set dress codes – like a necktie or smoking or whatever – and who won’t let people in if they are not dressed accordingly. So if this is allowed to restaurants, why shouldn’t it be allowed to shops…

    • MokumAlef says:

      There is a slight difference. These are places where you go esp to go out, for special occasions. When you are out doing your shopping that is not so much an option, or even desirable …. And as had been pointed out in the sister-(brother-) thread, there is an issue of creating a nice ambience for everyone. It is not to satisfy the personal proclivity of the owner of the establishment.

      • fille says:

        I don’t know. The issue is: should it be allowed for private business owners to exclude clients (for a reason that applies to all the clients equally). If it is allowed for restaurants to exclude clients in bikinis or without shirts or without neckties or without smokings, I can’t see how a shop would be different…

  11. moshe says:

    More proof that the more right wing the religious cult, the more they try to get adherence to their crazy ideas.

  12. I’ve seen it twice tonight on the news & I think it’s more of a Chillul Hashem than anything else…

  13. There’s something that bothers me about this article. The quotation, at the end: ““It goes to the basic human value of empathizing with others that are not like you, and I think the Hasidim have no awareness of such a concept,” he said.”

    Why shouldn’t the customers have this basic human value and respect the owner’s wishes? Who says this concept only works one way, and why should it only work in favor of those who don’t want to dress or behave with modesty? I’d be much more concerned with the other issues raised here:

    “The neighborhood embarked on a successful 2009 crusade to remove bike lanes from a 14-block stretch of Bedford Avenue — fearful of the scantily clad gals who would pedal through.”

    Er, no – you don’t get to block lanes of a public street.

    “Even Hillary Clinton was caught up in the mix last year — her image in the situation room the night of Osama bin Laden’s killing was scrubbed from a Brooklyn-based Hasidic newspaper because readers might have been offended by a woman’s presence in a sea of men.”

    There’s a complete lack of journalistic integrity in this, and a lack of respect. Changing the facts, revising history – hm. Seems to me that’s a problem.

  14. Avi says:

    It’s tone deaf, but defensible when it applies to a private business. Don’t like it? Don’t go there (or put a shirt on). It is unacceptable when it applies to public spaces.

    What bothered me most was this, “On the B110, a privately operated public bus line that runs through Orthodox Williamsburg and Borough Park, women are told to sit in back, also in accordance with Orthodox customs.” No. There are no customs common across Orthodox Judaism that require women to sit separately from men on buses, never mind in the back. There are all kinds of restrictive customs that individuals or individual sects may practice, but painting all Orthodox Jews as misogynistic is not just inaccurate, it’s actively harmful to the majority of Orthodox Jews who have no such custom and to kiruv efforts.

    • I can see that objection, Avi. I agree – and non-Jewish people won’t know that unless someone tells them, and it does certainly seem discriminatory towards women. I just wanted to make a distinction between discrimination AGAINST anyone for stuff they can’t change vs requiring them to make a choice in dress and behavior before entering a private business. This particular business didn’t require anything but basic modesty – no plunging necklines, no sleeveless tops/dresses. It’s not a religious requirement, per se – it’s not an imposition of faith. It applies to all people entering the store.

      Blocking bike paths on public roads should be illegal, period.

  15. I think that it is a problem to restrict dress. Its not as big of a deal if you don’t live in a particular neighborhood of if you have more than one place to shop, but if every business in your neighbor hood had a religious dress code that you didnt like it would be a problem. It sounds ok to restrict dress codes more than the average public place even if it is your store but to me it sounds fishy .

  16. John Trombone says:

    We live in a society which has learned (or is learning) not to judge people based on dress. This is clearly going in the wrong direction. From a community value perspective, this is offensive. But “offensive” does not equal “illegal.” If this is legal than it’s legal, they can run their business the way they want. I would not shop there, and, unless this is an isolated example (of attitude, let’s say, not specifics), which it clearly isn’t, it is one more nail in the coffin of “orthodoxy” for me.

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