Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rabbis in Israel Ban Perfume; Music Lessons Banned in Satmar "Holy City" of Kiryas Joel

Just when we thought there was nothing left to ban, the rabbis of Bnei Brak in Israel and Kiryas Joel in New York have found new ones:  perfume and music lessons.  OK, these two items don't seem to be related except that they are not looked upon favorably by Rabbi Yosef Meir Altman, head of the Hatam Sofer Rabbinical Court in Bnei Brak and Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe, who resides in the Rockland County community of Kiryas Joel.

According to a report in the Israeli paper Maariv, the Satmar Rebbe told his followers not to bring "keilim temei'im" (impure instruments) into their homes, referring to the Internet and video.  He then surprised his chassidim by speaking out against their taking their children to music lessons. 

He also urged his followers to beware of giving charity to “outside” organizations that reportedly hold private fundraising events featuring screened presentations, saying these events are inappropriate for “the holy city of Kiryas Yoel.”

Meanwhile, last Saturday night across the ocean in Bnei Brak, outside of Tel Aviv, a group of Haredim protested the opening of a new shopping mall which included the New Pharm drugstore, because they believed the cosmetics and perfumes for women and cologne and hair coloring for men would have a negative influence on the town's young people.

According to a Bnei Brak haredi activist, New-Pharm is located next to several very conservative educational institutions, including the Rabbi Wolf Seminary for Girls, known for its strict adherence to modesty rules.
People here do not want their daughters to be influenced by cosmetics and perfume," said the source, who asked to remain anonymous. "It simply is not acceptable."
The demonstrations, which were not organized by mainstream elements, came as a surprise to New-Pharm management, which had consulted with Bnei Brak Chief Rabbi Ya'acov Landau via PR firm McCann Erickson's haredi department.
"We removed condoms from the store, we do not use improper advertisements, we moved the cosmetics department to the back and we market goods that target the haredi population," said New-Pharm spokeswoman Daniella Reisenbach.
(Satmar photo: Reuters)