Welcome, Guest! - or
Easy to remember!  »  VinNews.com

Queens, NY - Jewish Property Owner Of Racy Billboard: I’ll Modify The Sign If Cost Is Covered By Complainants

Published on: February 11, 2009 09:46 AM
By: The Jewish Week by Linda Saslow
Change text size Text Size  

A view of the billboard  Image has been modified. (File photo by Michael Orbach of The Jewish Star who has been at the forefront of this issue)Queens, NY - When the two provocative billboards first appeared along Rockaway Boulevard last October, advertising the Platinum Club — a strip club in Rosedale along the border between Long Island and Queens — many Orthodox residents of the Five Towns were shocked.

“A billboard like that in Times Square might not get a second glance,” said Lenore Davis, a resident of Woodmere and the owner of FiveTowns.com, a community Web site. “But at the gateway to our family-oriented community, it was [an incitement], and this is not the image we want to give off.”
Members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Far Rockaway and the Five Towns were even more outraged. One resident, who asked that his name not be printed, said, “This should be offensive to
everybody, but as Jews, when you talk about open pornography and nudity, we see this as a violation of the Jewish code of law.”

Advertisement:

The billboards in question are two signs, 25 feet by six feet, featuring a nearly naked blonde woman wearing only thin strips of black material strategically covering some of her. Illuminated at night, the billboards are even more noticeable, even from an airplane.

Soon after their appearance, e-mails started flowing to the FiveTowns.com Web site, Davis said. When she asked her readers if this was really an issue, she got more than 150 responses from angry residents.

It is part of an ongoing clash between religious values and the increasingly uninhibited world of sexualized advertising that pits free speech against the rights of communities to control their surroundings. In the 1990s, Brooklyn City Councilman Noach Dear battled the MTA on behalf of his Borough Park constituents over racy bus ads, such as those for the film “Indecent Proposal.” More recently, on the Upper West Side, Orthodox residents looked askance at the displays meant to entice customers to a local Victoria’s Secret lingerie store.

In the latest skirmish, members of the Orthodox community in Far Rockaway recently held a meeting at Congregation Knesseth Israel, better known as “The White Shul,” which drew more than 300 people. Before long, growing emotions escalated and the controversial issue found its way to the desk of Nassau County Legislator Jeffrey Toback, of Oceanside.

On behalf of his constituents, Toback agreed to file a lawsuit at the Nassau County Supreme Court to have the billboard declared a nuisance and to be taken down immediately.

“It’s a quality-of-life issue,” Toback said. “When someone told me that her 17-year-old son’s bedroom window faced this billboard, I agreed that it was inappropriate and the content is clearly in violation on the New York State Penal Law’s prohibition on public display of obscene material. The only remedy is to take it down.”

New York City Councilman James Sanders, Jr., whose Queens district includes the billboard area, joined Toback at a recent press conference, said that the billboard is offensive not only to the Jewish community, but to everybody.

“I am glad that the Jewish community was the first to take up this challenge,” Sanders said. “The creeping permissiveness that has invaded out society is something that everyone should be aware of. It is an insult to children, to women and to families. This brings up important questions: Does a community have a right to have a standard? Can we enforce that standard and protect our children? And finally, if we allow this to happen, what’s next?”

But the property landlord, who is Jewish and who also requested anonymity to protect himself from harassment, said that his tenant had offered to modify the signs in order to be acceptable to the local communities, if the cost of the changes would be incurred by the complainants.

“I understand the sensitivity of this issue,” he said. “But personally, I don’t feel that the billboards are a violation of the Jewish code of law. This kind of billboard is so prevalent in New York City and can be seen on buses and on TV, so what difference could one more make? “

“But,” he added, “if this is such an important issue and can be resolved by the community getting together to pay $5,000 for the cost of modifying the billboards, why wouldn’t they consider it?”
But since it will take a court order to remove the signs, and the next hearing date is scheduled for May, opponents will have to put up with the offending billboards for at least the next few months.

 



More of today's headlines

New York City - Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the question “ridiculous.” A reporter wanted to know whether, in view of the economic adversity facing New York and... New York - Relative to other surgeries, bris milah is a simple procedure, with a surprisingly low risk rate. At the same time, an incision, an open wound and the removal...

 

Total45

Read Comments (45)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Feb 11, 2009 at 09:36 AM RGS Guy Says:

Sounds fair to me, if the wealthy 5 Towners don't like it they should pass around the pushka and pay the 5 grand to have it removed. Seems like a simple solution to me.

2

 Feb 11, 2009 at 09:29 AM Anonymous Says:

I guess it's put up or shut up time. Reimbursement is a fair request. I am againsy the sign but also against nebulous "community standards" because everyone thinks theirs is what the community standards should be like.

3

 Feb 11, 2009 at 09:29 AM Anonymous Says:

nebech,what comes across is the everything is money forget about decency if the jewish owner wants money what message does that send.

4

 Feb 11, 2009 at 09:26 AM mottel Says:

Easy to complain. He offered to change the billboard for $5,000, they'd rather let it hang till the court date? Who said they'll even win the case?
Put your money where your mouth is

5

 Feb 11, 2009 at 09:26 AM Freedom Fighter Says:

This is not only a Jewish issue. It is a societal issue. It is a woman's issue.

What you have here is the moral unraveling of our society, the cheapening of women to make some bucks and the desensitization of that which should be held sacred.

Good going, Five Towns. I hope this inspires other communities, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, to take action by those who exploit women for their financial and immoral gains.

6

 Feb 11, 2009 at 09:25 AM Yossi Says:

$5,000 should be an afterthought in contrast to the disgrace of this sign.

7

 Feb 11, 2009 at 09:22 AM Anonymous Says:

With all the important issues facing the community, why do these people focus on such nareshkeit...there is a simple answer that does require one to be a talmud chachum....if you don't like it, DON'T LOOK...please, lets focus our energy on important issues rather than trying to legislate the morality of others in a free society. Unless these signs violate obscenity laws, which they clearly don't given their prevalence all over the media, just let it go and move on

8

 Feb 11, 2009 at 09:12 AM Anonymous Says:

Where do you have to send the money?
Is it tax deductable?

9

 Feb 11, 2009 at 10:04 AM moish Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

With all the important issues facing the community, why do these people focus on such nareshkeit...there is a simple answer that does require one to be a talmud chachum....if you don't like it, DON'T LOOK...please, lets focus our energy on important issues rather than trying to legislate the morality of others in a free society. Unless these signs violate obscenity laws, which they clearly don't given their prevalence all over the media, just let it go and move on

Tell your kids "don't look" and see how much it helps

10

 Feb 11, 2009 at 10:02 AM deepthinker Says:

Let's think about this "generous offer" by this degenerate property owner.--

I have a loaded gun pointed at your child.

If you pay me $5,000 for the cost of the gun and for my frustrated feelings, I'll put away the gun and let you child live.

11

 Feb 11, 2009 at 10:16 AM Anonymous Says:

I look at it this way if they have a problem or they want to take it off (and its not against the law) let them pay for what happen if someone doesn't like my house tomorrow should I take my house off? Stupid 5towns if its that important to you pay for it I guess yidishkeit isn't that important to you people its all about pride that they won !!!! Stop it msheach won't come that way

12

 Feb 11, 2009 at 10:15 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

With all the important issues facing the community, why do these people focus on such nareshkeit...there is a simple answer that does require one to be a talmud chachum....if you don't like it, DON'T LOOK...please, lets focus our energy on important issues rather than trying to legislate the morality of others in a free society. Unless these signs violate obscenity laws, which they clearly don't given their prevalence all over the media, just let it go and move on

You're very clearly misguided. The community is complaining about a major lack of tznius and there is no reason to be tempted to look at this obscene billboard. Your comment of "if you don't like it, don't look" works on a person that has perfected the art of shmiras einayim but for the majority of the world, it's an ongoing battle!

A special Yasher Koach to all the askanim and balei batim fighting to have this immorality removed.

13

 Feb 11, 2009 at 09:58 AM Anonymous Says:

This should be cheap! How much is a can of black paint?

14

 Feb 11, 2009 at 10:30 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

You're very clearly misguided. The community is complaining about a major lack of tznius and there is no reason to be tempted to look at this obscene billboard. Your comment of "if you don't like it, don't look" works on a person that has perfected the art of shmiras einayim but for the majority of the world, it's an ongoing battle!

A special Yasher Koach to all the askanim and balei batim fighting to have this immorality removed.

If in frumme communities, we cannot use the challenge of "shmiras einayim" and concerns about "tznius" to impose our values on others. I would prefer that ALL these places be shut down permanently but that is not feasible under the relevant laws. If this property owner is compensated for the costs and is willing to do so voluntarily, thats a win-win outcome but otherwise, get used to closing your eyes or thinking about your machatonim or other distraction when you pass this sign.

15

 Feb 11, 2009 at 10:23 AM mottel Says:

Reply to #5  
Freedom Fighter Says:

This is not only a Jewish issue. It is a societal issue. It is a woman's issue.

What you have here is the moral unraveling of our society, the cheapening of women to make some bucks and the desensitization of that which should be held sacred.

Good going, Five Towns. I hope this inspires other communities, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, to take action by those who exploit women for their financial and immoral gains.

Oh please! you're totally off track here.
The point here is that a community is fighting for it's purity (though I can't understand why they don't just pay the $5,000, sounds fair), nothing more.
Don't go waffling off about 'exploitation' of women, they choose to do their 'business' for financial gain

16

 Feb 11, 2009 at 10:17 AM Anonymous Says:

The real problem with this solution is setting a precedent. Will we get into the business of buying out anyone who wants to put up an offensive billboard?

17

 Feb 11, 2009 at 10:44 AM Anonymous Says:

last time I read your article u said that he had no permit. did he get one in the meantime?

18

 Feb 11, 2009 at 10:44 AM Oy Gevald Says:

They want US to pay? Oh really! How about we take the sign down for him for free and he is free to put another sign back up in place that meets the requirement to nullify the lawsuit!!!

19

 Feb 11, 2009 at 10:41 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

With all the important issues facing the community, why do these people focus on such nareshkeit...there is a simple answer that does require one to be a talmud chachum....if you don't like it, DON'T LOOK...please, lets focus our energy on important issues rather than trying to legislate the morality of others in a free society. Unless these signs violate obscenity laws, which they clearly don't given their prevalence all over the media, just let it go and move on

so u hav e no issues with a large 6x 12 foot poster of a women who is 95 percent naked hanging on a tree in front of your house?

20

 Feb 11, 2009 at 11:32 AM Anonymous Says:

I thought only in williamsurg they have these kind of issues....

21

 Feb 11, 2009 at 11:32 AM Anonymous Says:

they should pay the money but TOTALLY REMOVE the sign so he gets NO publicity at all

22

 Feb 11, 2009 at 11:19 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #19  
Anonymous Says:

so u hav e no issues with a large 6x 12 foot poster of a women who is 95 percent naked hanging on a tree in front of your house?

On a list of 10 priorities for my neighborhood, this owuld be no. 15 or 16...No. I don't really care...I want cleaner air, more parks, better schools, etc. In a perfect world, no, I would not want this sign but to waste time on this nareshkeit is to take time from the really important issues...my kids have grown up without making a big deal about this stuff which is all around them on the internet and t.v. Maybe 25 years from now I will found out they were traumatized but right now, both they and most of their friends in the yeshiva seem to take this stuff ins stride and with much greater maturity than my generation.

23

 Feb 11, 2009 at 12:18 PM Anonymous Says:

#16 I totally agree with you. True, right now there is an option to pay the owner off, but what happens the next time and the next. Every community should have the right to band together and protect themselves and if there is a majority who feels the same then the issue should be resolved. Paying someone does not make the problem go away permantly but if the community sticks together, this will not happen again and it will be a Kiddush Hashem and a Zchus for Klal Yisroel

24

 Feb 11, 2009 at 12:10 PM Gefilte Fish Says:

Hey people, If this would happen in willi you would be all over it screaming, 'this is america, you can't tell people what to do!' but since it's five towns, then it's not even a jewish issue, it should concern every decent moral "goy" right?

25

 Feb 11, 2009 at 12:10 PM Bas Melech Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

With all the important issues facing the community, why do these people focus on such nareshkeit...there is a simple answer that does require one to be a talmud chachum....if you don't like it, DON'T LOOK...please, lets focus our energy on important issues rather than trying to legislate the morality of others in a free society. Unless these signs violate obscenity laws, which they clearly don't given their prevalence all over the media, just let it go and move on

You are WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wrong wrong wrong is all i can say!!

26

 Feb 11, 2009 at 12:52 PM Anonymous Says:

if he wins the lawsuit 5000 will seem mighty tempting. if he loses all he will have to do is tone it down a little. this is america.

27

 Feb 11, 2009 at 12:36 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #25  
Bas Melech Says:

You are WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wrong wrong wrong is all i can say!!

OK, than look, look, look, and aggrivate yourself and...its your right in a free society!!

28

 Feb 11, 2009 at 01:13 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
deepthinker Says:

Let's think about this "generous offer" by this degenerate property owner.--

I have a loaded gun pointed at your child.

If you pay me $5,000 for the cost of the gun and for my frustrated feelings, I'll put away the gun and let you child live.

Let's think about this in a non-insane fashion:

I own a gun. It cost me $5,000 to buy and show off because I'm proud of my gun.

You hate guns, you don't want your child looking at guns to get violent ideas, and feel they're a danger to you and everyone around because I own it and display it in my window.

If you want it gone, it's only fair that I agree to take it down and get rid of it if you reimburse me (because you're causing me a loss), because it's my legal right to have and display a gun, and you can't force me to throw it away.

So too, much as you are offended by the sign and call it pornography, it isn't by American law. Din Malchusa is not controlled by halacha.

29

 Feb 11, 2009 at 01:11 PM Anonymous Says:

FIVE TOWNS??!!! ARE YOU GUYS NUTS?
You bring in every proste paper and let your kids do whatever they please and your worried about some nude billboard??? please.

30

 Feb 11, 2009 at 01:45 PM Anonymous Says:

if this landlord ownes a buisness or goes to shul he shul be excommunated and the rabbi should toss him out on his big hind

31

 Feb 11, 2009 at 02:33 PM CH resident Says:

in my shtetl, there was a disgusting movie advertisement at a local bus stop on kingston ave. i am proud and honored to personally know the eishes chayil who spray painted over it. when she goes to the beis din ha-elyon after 120, all she'll have to do is show her can of paint and they'll wave her right in.

32

 Feb 11, 2009 at 03:10 PM Realist Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

With all the important issues facing the community, why do these people focus on such nareshkeit...there is a simple answer that does require one to be a talmud chachum....if you don't like it, DON'T LOOK...please, lets focus our energy on important issues rather than trying to legislate the morality of others in a free society. Unless these signs violate obscenity laws, which they clearly don't given their prevalence all over the media, just let it go and move on

Brilliant comment!
Go tell that teenage boy, "Just don't look!".
That's gonna work real well.
Please don't ever go into Chinuch.

33

 Feb 11, 2009 at 02:58 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #31  
CH resident Says:

in my shtetl, there was a disgusting movie advertisement at a local bus stop on kingston ave. i am proud and honored to personally know the eishes chayil who spray painted over it. when she goes to the beis din ha-elyon after 120, all she'll have to do is show her can of paint and they'll wave her right in.

And what happens when a Muslim spray paints a shul because it's offensive to them?

34

 Feb 11, 2009 at 02:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
deepthinker Says:

Let's think about this "generous offer" by this degenerate property owner.--

I have a loaded gun pointed at your child.

If you pay me $5,000 for the cost of the gun and for my frustrated feelings, I'll put away the gun and let you child live.

Bad analogy. It's illegal to hold the gun to your head; it's legal to put up the billboard. They are the ones complaining

35

 Feb 11, 2009 at 03:28 PM fed up Says:

i agree that no matter which community has billboards or bus ads that it should be taken down.... BUT first of all lets first look at how we dress are u telling me that all these ppl complaining their wives and daughters dress accordingly i dont think so so first clean up your acts and stop being hypocrits.......... Secondly i wish when it comes to proyecting our kids from molestors our communities all over including the FIVE TOWNS that we stick up for them instead of hiding behind curtains (or billboards) where are all those rabbonim supposedly screaming against these billbpards howcome they cant protect our children from these monsters .............. hmmmmmmmmmmmm i am still waiting for an answer i guess i wont be getting one so go back to ur holes... i guess it is wherever you can get publicity they are out there screaming

36

 Feb 11, 2009 at 04:32 PM Long Island Bubby Says:

regarding some of your comments, please read the article carefully. The owner does not want $5,000., HIS TENANT, wants the $5,000. to cover the cost of redoing the billboard. Don't slam the landlord, leases do not have modesty clauses !!
Please stop disparaging the 5 towns. It is truly offensive. I do not live there, but I know many many people who do. It is a place like any other place with good people, bad people, tremendous baalei tzedakot, and thiefs. those who live modestly and those who do not. PLEASE STOP this offensive "group" bashing.

I do not object to the sign on a religious basis, this is America, that it is his right to do this. I object as a human being being offended by something I cannot avoid. I can chose to read inappropriate material or not, I can chose to watch TV or not. But I cannot avoid that sign if I need to go down that street (and there is no viable alternative) THAT infringes on my rights as a human being and for that reason and that reason alone I want that sign gone.

37

 Feb 11, 2009 at 06:47 PM Charlie Hall Says:

After taking care of this, can we work on the New York Post? I was fortunate to have a sefer in which to bury my head while riding the subway today. And the non-tzniut woman on today's front cover is a Jew!

(Oh, I forgot. Politically conservative newspapers get a pass. Any amount of licentiousness is permissible as long as the editorial page whines about the evils of liberalism.)

38

 Feb 11, 2009 at 08:39 PM Anonymous Says:

reply # 7
you sound very ignorant and obviously have never seen this sign but as a resident of this community, it not only offensive, but it is horrible for our innocent children who pass by and many have said their kids have asked "whats that?"
if you are a true frum person, this would bother you as well and if you are anormal human being with tayvas im sure you can understand its not so simple to say "dont look" especially when it comes to kids and teens.
third of all this is far from "fair" -this owner which did have his name published in another article and is a great neck resident should be embarassed to condone such a thing and it is obvious that he has personal negiyos in this and he is choosing money over morality.
moreove,r there is an issue of lifnei iver that i am sure he is being ovayr in and he should do everything he can to encourage his tenant to adjust the sign.

39

 Feb 12, 2009 at 07:32 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #38  
Anonymous Says:

reply # 7
you sound very ignorant and obviously have never seen this sign but as a resident of this community, it not only offensive, but it is horrible for our innocent children who pass by and many have said their kids have asked "whats that?"
if you are a true frum person, this would bother you as well and if you are anormal human being with tayvas im sure you can understand its not so simple to say "dont look" especially when it comes to kids and teens.
third of all this is far from "fair" -this owner which did have his name published in another article and is a great neck resident should be embarassed to condone such a thing and it is obvious that he has personal negiyos in this and he is choosing money over morality.
moreove,r there is an issue of lifnei iver that i am sure he is being ovayr in and he should do everything he can to encourage his tenant to adjust the sign.

don't look at it!!

40

 Feb 12, 2009 at 07:31 AM Anonymous Says:

i live in the 5 towns and never paid any attention to the billboard till it made headlines, people should take the same $5000 and give it to tomchei shabbos and mind their own business.

41

 Feb 12, 2009 at 12:35 PM Anonymous Says:

The owner is a Jew who is or was a mortgage banker. He used to finance relatively high risk deals and he may have gotten the property by having to foreclose after he lent on it.

The tenant is a real character with ties to the Albanian mob in the Bronx/Westchester (who but a lowlife would operate such a business). I knew him many years ago; back then he was a harmless but unreliable seat of the pants operator who mysteriously rose from building super to BMW driving wannabe tycoon in a few short years. Some of his buddies from that era are dead of Albanian mob natural causes now.

$5K would be the best solution; it isn't worth causing agmas nefesh to the Jewish owner during this financial crisis, or getting in too deep with the tenant.

42

 Feb 13, 2009 at 01:34 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #31  
CH resident Says:

in my shtetl, there was a disgusting movie advertisement at a local bus stop on kingston ave. i am proud and honored to personally know the eishes chayil who spray painted over it. when she goes to the beis din ha-elyon after 120, all she'll have to do is show her can of paint and they'll wave her right in.

I'll pay for the a new can of spray paint and lend her my ladder. When is she available?

43

 Feb 13, 2009 at 01:33 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #28  
Anonymous Says:

Let's think about this in a non-insane fashion:

I own a gun. It cost me $5,000 to buy and show off because I'm proud of my gun.

You hate guns, you don't want your child looking at guns to get violent ideas, and feel they're a danger to you and everyone around because I own it and display it in my window.

If you want it gone, it's only fair that I agree to take it down and get rid of it if you reimburse me (because you're causing me a loss), because it's my legal right to have and display a gun, and you can't force me to throw it away.

So too, much as you are offended by the sign and call it pornography, it isn't by American law. Din Malchusa is not controlled by halacha.

This case is very different. This guy is advertising a place that is assur "yeharog v'all ya'aver" to walk into. (see gemara in Sanhedrin) He is asking me to pay for a different advertisement for his yeharog v'all ya'avover establishment. So how does it look when the woman is 35% covered instead of 5% covered and the bottom of the sign says paif for by the vaad harabonim of five towns? I believe the guy had an Israeli or sefardi name, even if he is not religious, find his Rabbi, his chacham, or his mother and tell her that this man will not be allowed in a synagogue and will not be buried in a Jewish cemetery (insert nusach of syrian "gezaira" here) etc.

44

 Feb 13, 2009 at 01:25 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #22  
Anonymous Says:

On a list of 10 priorities for my neighborhood, this owuld be no. 15 or 16...No. I don't really care...I want cleaner air, more parks, better schools, etc. In a perfect world, no, I would not want this sign but to waste time on this nareshkeit is to take time from the really important issues...my kids have grown up without making a big deal about this stuff which is all around them on the internet and t.v. Maybe 25 years from now I will found out they were traumatized but right now, both they and most of their friends in the yeshiva seem to take this stuff ins stride and with much greater maturity than my generation.

We weren't taking about you, we were talking about orthodox people.

45

 Feb 13, 2009 at 01:22 AM matzahlocal101 Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

I guess it's put up or shut up time. Reimbursement is a fair request. I am againsy the sign but also against nebulous "community standards" because everyone thinks theirs is what the community standards should be like.

So it's OK that you pay to advertise for this type of business? If people constantly slow down to view the sign and it disturbs the flow of traffic, it's a traffic hazard and should be treated as such. This approach has been used successfully in Florida and avoids the subjective obscenity standard. it can also be imposed immediately, not at the next hearing date.

46

Sign-in to post a comment

Click here to sign-in.

Scroll Up
Advertisements:
Sell your scrap gold and broken jewelry and earn hard cash sell gold today!