The large Hasidic Jewish population of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has been clashing with hipsters since an onslaught of 20-somethings began invading their neighborhood in the ’90s. Today the two groups are fighting it out over bike lanes. At a community board meeting on September 8, the New York Post reports that Hasidic representatives proposed the elimination of bike lanes on the grounds that the lanes cause traffic problems and congestion. One Hasidic representative, Simon Weisser, admitted to the Post that the hipsters’ scantily clad attire was also a major problem. “It bothers me,” said Weisser, “and it bothers a lot of people.”
The bike lanes are the latest front in the hipster vs. Hasidic cultural clash over fashion, modesty, and neighborhood identity. New York Magazine points to an article from the Brooklyn Paper about a fight over a billboard for the remade TV show 90210 that was deemed distasteful because it featured people in swimsuits. Back in 2004, Harper’s magazine printed a more spiritual salvo in the fight against the hipsters, when Hasidic Jews distributed a prayer called, “For the Protection of Our City Williamsburg From the Plague of Artists.” The prayer read in part:
Please, our Father God of Mercy, have mercy upon our generation that is weak, and remove this difficult test from these people, these immoral antagonists that by their doing will multiply, God forbid, the excruciating tests and the sight of the impurity and immorality that is growing in the world.
Image by Sookie, licensened under Creative Commons.