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Signs bolted to trees in Hasidic community

October 11, 2011 2:19:11 PM PDT
Look hard enough and you will find signs in Yiddish placed on trees in Williamsburg's sprawling Hasidic community.

"It's the most visible spot. They just want people to see it," said Hersey Deutsch, a resident.

First though: the message translated.

"Dear Jewish daughter, please move aside when a man approaches," said Deborah Feldman, author, "This to me, to step aside for a man is instinctive behavior for me as a child, no one had to remind me."

Having grown up in the Hasidic community of Satmar and intimately knowing its religious customs and traditions, Deborah Feldman decided to leave.

It was an extremely rare choice two years ago.

Her upcoming memoir, "Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots" will soon come out.

"There is definitely more rebellion. There is definitely more young Hasidic people looking around and seeing they don't live like us, 'why do I have to live like this?'" Feldman said.

Thus a move by some, she thinks, to reinforce religious traditions, now with signs.

"I find that insulting. It definitely stings," Feldman said.

Hersey Deutsch has seen the signs.

"It's just an extra precaution. It's nothing. Somebody's taking things into their own hands, it doesn't speak for the community," Deutsch said.

Regardless of what the sign says, the Parks Department points out you cannot simply nail a sign to a tree. But the signs were not just nailed; they were bolted to the tree.

The Parks Department has taken some down, but others remain.

Sometimes they are barely noticed in the rush of life.


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