Welcome To Kiryas Joel: Please Dress Accordingly

KIRYAS JOEL, N.Y. (CBS 2) — You may never see a more unusual “Welcome” sign in Orange County.

A sign in Kiryas Joel, the Hasidic Jewish enclave, is evoking mixed reaction.

Monroe resident Jessica Pantalemon stopped to cash a check in Kiryas Joel wearing a bright pink tank top and white shorts. She said she noticed scowling faces.

“Just from the women, mostly,” she said. “The guys let me walk by, the women stop and stare, start whispering to each other…I just ignore them.”

The tradition in the village of Satmar Hasidic Jews is modesty. Even on the hottest of days, most residents cover up from head to toe. But visitors don’t necessarily follow that tradition, and now the main synagogue is asking them to comply.

Congregation Yetev Lev posted signs at the village’s entrance – in both English and Spanish – asking outsiders to cover their legs and arms, use appropriate language and maintain gender separation in public.

“It’s a way of respect,” said one resident.

In fact, most residents say it’s simply a polite reminder to respect the local culture, and many visitors take the signs in that spirit.

“It’s nice to request that people behave in a way respect to their beliefs,” said Barry Kaufmann of Wantagh.

But the sign struck a sour note with some.

“They’re telling us that we can’t come into their community unless we dress a certain way,” said Adia Parker, an Orange County resident.

“I feel like my constitutional rights are being violated,” said Tyrone Wheeler, a day laborer in the village seeking work.

A village trustee pointed out the signs said nothing about consequences for violating these guidelines – because there are no consequences.

“We’re not threatening anyone,” said Rabbi Jacob Freund. “Everybody is free to come in and be the same, like all other places in the United States.”

So dressing like Jessica Pantalemon may elicit a scowl, but it won’t earn you a summons.

The New York Civil Liberties Union said because the signs were paid for privately and are not on public land and they pass constitutional muster.

  • tim

    As a proud religious American citizen I am extremely proud of most of my fellow Americans. Most of the comments on this article have been overwhelmingly supportive and that speaks volumes for the real morals and values that mainstream Americans aim for. When I saw the article on drudge I was waiting for all the angry nasty foulmouthed comments. surprise! Most of the comments were right on in supporting the “rights” of a private organization to put up a privately funded sign to politely requested that we bring some modesty and moral values back into our society. We have changed so much as a country over the last forty years that its mind boggling. There is no more shame in America. People just let it all hang out.

    There is no shame to dress how you want, speak what you want, look at everything you want, and act on everything you so desire. It’s a big shame. Because a narcissistic, licentious and morally bankrupt society and culture will inevitably collapse on itself. Wake up America. We don’t need sharia law but we need a semblance of decency and morality. Its not enough to go to church once a week and sing hymns. We have to internalize these vital moral values and allow them to extend more influence over the decisions we make every single day.

    • Dd


  • Lee Reynolds

    People can do as they please. What bugs me is the fact that they pretend that THEY are the ones who are out of place, and that people who don’t look like them or act like them are doing something wrong. Scowling at normal people from mainstream society who walk by might maintain their in-group cohesion, but it alienates those who are subjected to it.

    Tolerance is a two-way street.

    Being different is fine. Being snooty about your differences isn’t.

  • Deibon Snook

    A lot of people are getting all hot and bothered by this. What about the Christian Amish? Don’t they follow similar customs? Aren’t there signs or some similar understanding when going into an Amish community?

  • tyler

    who cares?!?! if you don’t like, don’t go there.

  • John

    >>> I feel like my constitutional rights are being violated,” said Tyrone Wheeler, a day laborer in the village seeking work.

    What do you want to bet Mr. Constitutional Rights, who gets paid in cash every day, doesn’t pay state or federal taxes?

  • Michael

    The responses to this article are proof that our public school system is in dire straits. Those of you who are complaining about the ‘law’ requiring a dress code are uneducated morons. Obviously you people can’t read. The article makes it quite clear that this is a suggestion not a rule or a law. Please refrain from trying to read or understand any news articles until you have at least mastered third grade reading skills.

  • MindYourOwnBusiness

    As long as no laws are being broken, noone really has the right to be offended on how another person dresses in the public sphere. Whatever happened to MYOB mind your own business?

    • Rick

      Right! and since abortion is legal, you have no right to be offended by that either! Case closed! Move along… nothing to see here…

  • Julie

    Jon — I also think it’s telling that you made assumptions about my own behavior and choices just on the basis of my support for even, dispassionate enforcement of federal civil rights law. You didn’t even consider that my motivation could be simply Equal Protection of the Law.

  • Julie

    Jon — Personally, I think federal civil rights laws are a good idea and are philosophically sound. If you don’t, that’s your privilege.

    Personally, I do tend to respect local mores where I reasonably can—that is, they’re not freaking out about my religion, my hair, or my race. If I go to an upscale restaurant, I don’t wear jeans. I dress up, even though I know they would serve me anyway.

    My concern is for the other residents of Orange County–such private enclaves tend to grow and take a bite out of access for the original locals.

    My *primary* concern is for strangers just passing through, from out of state, who have no idea the Hasidic community is there and are hungry or need a tank of gas or have some other need, who can’t get what they need. Yes, I believe in enforcing federal civil rights laws against discrimination in businesses open to the public.

    The owner’s right to swing his fist ends with the other guy’s nose.

  • Meshugana Shegetz

    Hey Jessica, cute butt. What’s your email address?

  • witch hunt

    put up a sign asking that they pay their taxes and get off welfare

  • Fargin Bastiges

    We could sure use a sign like that in front of my local Wal-Mart.

  • SarahMom

    Sounds like a great idea! ‘Bout time we are expected to act with decorum and respect.

  • Stages of Tyranny

    It starts as a suggestion, becomes a request, then a recommendation. Next thing you know, it’s a demand, then an ordinance, then a law, then an ultimatum.

    Better to stop it early.

  • lee1947

    Until about 60 years ago most people would have been dressed the way they ask all of the time. My Grandmother always wore skirts that almost touched the floor, had never cut her hair, and she would NEVER go out of the house without a scarf on her head. She was not all that unusual from everyone else at the time. A lady would have died before going to the store with curlers in her hair, and Men and boys wore a suit and tie to work and school then we started to get more liberal about how to dress. I am not so sure all change is for the best but they do change.

    PS: Hasidic Jews are NOT trying to enforce their ideas on anyone.

    • Cat

      People tend to forget that all of our grandparents dressed this way up until then! ALL religions – yes all the Christians grandmas were dressed modestly as well as the Jewish ones.

      Would you wear sexy or revealing clothing to visit Grandma?

      Or do you cover up a bit more out of respect?

  • Smitty by the seaside

    Jessica has a very nice ass. I’d hit that!

    • AmericanMale

      But only from behind.

      From the front, she is skanky.

  • Julie

    In foreign countries with dress codes and similar, violating the dress code is *illegal*.

    In the US, discriminating against customers based on race, sex, religion, creed, or national origin is *illegal*.

    As for power women getting off on the submission vibe, I don’t think anyone else’s sexual kink between or among consenting adults is my business. If some guy with an Asian fetish goes to Japan and ogles the women, why should I care?

  • Yes there ARE private towns all over the United States

    Yes there ARE private towns all over the United States. Call them private towns or incorporated villages or other names. They exist all over and have request, rules, and sometimes special laws on the books that are completely odd anywhere else.

    Remember the “blue laws” on the east coat and were based on the church – any store selling alcohol couldn’t be open on Sunday at all. Today this means in most places they open but not until after noon (when church is over). In some states and towns however the law on the books still prohibit the liquor stores themselves from being open on Sunday, but the liquor section of Walmart can open after 11.

    Another example is the “incorporated village of Ocean Beach” (Fire Island, NY). This private town has special laws on its books all over the place. One such law is that it prohibits the eating or drinking of food and beverages in public. This includes the street as well as the beach. SO if you are eating a cookie on the street, you may be subject to a fine – the same penalty as you would for drinking on the beach. Drinking also includes water – there is no public consumption of any beverage permitted here, so expect to be thirsty while getting your rays of sun on this beach. They really are intent on keeping their town clean and clear of littering and so before a person can even have something to toss, they made it illegal to even have the item outside.

    Asking someone to dress a bit more modestly when they visit is not a terrible thing. Frankly I’d prefer my kids not to dress like what they see on mtv and cover up more skin so this is not a bad thing.

    I noticed the man in the article who didn’t like it still wants to go there and take the people’s money – that’s a bit hypocritical, isn’t it? If he wants to take their money and get a job, then he should then act as if he respects their way of life, not bash it in a newspaper. I wouldn’t hire him now.

    Everyone has reasons and rationales for what they have in their area, but we just have to respect it when we visit. And if it’s not your cup of tea, that’s ok. Your way of life could seem strange to someone from a different part of the country too. The U.S. is HUGE – and we are fortunate to be so large and have so many different types of people here that we can accommodate all of us.

  • Mhu Cao

    Don’t get too breathless about these Hasidic dress codes.
    1. It is a voluntary social expectation.
    2. It is not government-backed.
    3. It is not enforced by police.
    Therefore, it is harmless and can be followed as a courtesy or ignored. A few whispering old ladies is not a sanction or infringement of anyone’s liberty.

    Sharia law is quite different:
    1. It is a mandatory socia-political requirement.
    2. It is fused with a theocratic government.
    3. It is brutally enforced by police, particularly against women.

    Don’t get them mixed up. Don’t let the faux-media, muslim spoilers, or left-wing loons conflate them. The Hasidic norms are quaint by comparison to the malignant Sharia. The Hasidic dress code is within Constitutional protection. Sharia law is an oppressive, anti-Constitutional, anti-liberty, anti-individual form of oppression that not compatible with the Constitution. Sharia cannot co-exist with the Constitution and is not protected by the Constitution.

    Learn the difference; know the enemy.

    • AGREE

      well said

    • Mhu Cao = Win

      YES! Well stated!!!

      Thank you for your educated input, Cao, and I don’t think you will sway many people commenting, thank you nonetheless!

  • Jon

    It’s a matter of RESPECT. People like Julie have NO respect. They just want what they want, like petulant teenage girls that have been told no by daddy too many times, and they want to throw a tantrum and not have to give the car keys back. “It’s my RIGHT!!!, Waaaaa!”
    No it isn’t. You’re on someone else’s property. Grow up.

  • Mike

    I’m going to go for a walk in Kiryas Joel, wearing shorts, eating a ham sandwich, and asking local women if they’d like to talk about Jesus with me. If they don’t like it, they can leave the US. America is a Christian nation that has welcomed all, especially the Jews, and although we have always respected their right to practice their religion in peace, they are the ones who are supposed to be respecting our culture, not the other way around. These are Hasidim; their culture is considered backwards and errant even by most Jews.

  • Andy

    Coming from a community that masquerades as a religious community when they’re nothing but a vast criminal empire, is even funnier

  • axxis

    This is an example of religions imposing their values and beliefs on those who are not of their religion. This is an infirngement on their civil liberties and must be contested at all costs.

  • Doustoi

    Based on photo in the story, Ms. Pantalemon is welcome to wear her chosen attire in Wilson, NC any time she desires.

  • Mike

    You mean I wouldn’t be able to see an elderly Jewish woman, 200 lbs + wearing daisy Dukes and a T- top?

    • kekekekeke

      Not even if she could fit all the folds and wrinkles in the tightly fitting clothes, no, probably not.

  • Rick

    She’s only saying that because she thinks she’s cuter than most. I bet if her neighbor was a bikini wearing porn star and her husband spent all his time at the window then she might not be so antagonistic to requests for modesty. It’s amazing how people survived wearing clothes on hot days for centuries, but now we’ll all die if we’ve got more than underwear on when it’s 80 degrees out.

  • Julie

    If I were a white racist working retail in an almost all-white community, I might think it was icky to serve a black customer. My other customers might think it was icky to have a black customer in the store with them.

    Tough titty. Grow up.

    Again, if the businesses don’t discriminate, the sign is just speech, who cares. If the businesses do end up discriminating, the sign is still just speech, but the businesses will be doing something against federal civil rights law.

  • Spacious Skies

    Why is it that no one objects when our power women, you know who they are, go to a muslim country and dutifully cover their heads and hair “out of respect”, when in those countries, women covering of head, hair and body is a mandatory act of submission I get it that they love their power and independence here, but if you look at their faces when wearing the scarf in front of the men, they seem to dig the submission vibe. As for our power men, well I’ll leave it to you to figure that one out.

    So, as with all else, we’ll kiss the world’s butt, acknowledge their customs and cultures, respect them because it’s their home and their right to their own religious beliefs, but we’ll deny the respectful request to guests of a community to honor their community values? And, when it comes to respecting our community wants and desires, we’ll acquiesce to the ugly guest who comes to our community and then demands all things as a matter of right?

    The mosque, illegal immigrants, this issue in a little town sadly demonstrate that our constitution, our shield against tyranny, is now a club for those who can’t understand advanced concepts of freedom, a club to be used to pummel our societies in order to advance sectarian and ideological interests, and at the expense of the continued existence of our free republic.

  • Julie

    The Amish have a pretty good record of not discriminating against “English” customers. If the Hasidic community in NY establishes that same reputation, I see no problem with their polite request. As to the situation now? [shrug] Trust but verify.

  • New Yorker

    would be a great idea if every street light in NYC had a sign that reminded u not to curse and act appropriately …

  • Julie

    Oh, and before we get to “shirt and shoes required” and places that will throw you out if you’re stinkily unwashed, the shoes part and the stinky part are matters of public health.

    I’m not sure the shirt part would stand up in court–I think it probably would since it is not a religion-based discrimination. There is a whole group of people who disapprove of civil rights legislation that bars businesses open to the public from discriminating. Unless you oppose that legislation for everyone, if you think the Hasidic community should be free to, you’re a hypocrite.

    I know nobody says they’re doing it yet. Yet. Again, don’t be naive. As long as periodic “testers” from elsewhere in the county don’t encounter business discrimination, the sign is fine. But it needs to be tested regularly and randomly to keep them honest.

    • Jon

      No they are not matters of public health, that’s nonsense. It’s private property. A business owner can request you to wear whatever they want on THEIR property, or you can do your business elsewhere. It’s the same if you walk into my house, and I don’t like what you’re wearing. I can ask you to leave. Learn the difference between public and private property. Your right to dress however you want and say whatever you want ends at my front door.

  • Rationalist

    If you don’t like the rules, don’t live there.
    That applies to you, too, muslims!

  • Jon

    More Sharia?
    No. That’s not what they are doing. It is a request, not a demand nor is it a law. They do not threaten anyone with violence or prosecution for being immodest, nor would they.
    Religious repression my ass. Shop in another town if you don’t like their sign. Take your money somewhere else if it’s so repulsive to you.

    • ReadMorePlease

      People can’t seem to understand what Sharia is and what this article says. After reading these comments it’s a wonder half the people here are literate enough to type.

  • Kiryas George

    Jumping Jehosophat! She’s dressed for the weather, not like a slut. Some people seem to be afraid of women, not sure why?

  • Craig

    BS comment Ken. What’s next the Rabbi sending out some guys with sticks and side curls to beat women who don’t comply? This isn’t Afghanistan. We will not put up with slowly circling the drain of subjection to religious law here in the US. It’s really astounding to see liberal morons willingly subject them selves to rabbinical rules and sharia law. If that was a Christian community asking the same thing of visitors you jackass liberal idiots would be howling in protest. Rachel Madow’s head would explode, Keith Obermann and the other jerk wouldn’t even be able to speak coherently. All the Imams and the liberal Rabbis can just pound sand.

  • AmericanMale

    But she does look really hot in those little white shorts.

  • Moe

    Try walking into a 7-11 without shoes or shirt. We all see the “No Shoes, No shirt, No service” signs all over the place. How about a fancy NY restaurant demanding we wear jackets in order to be seated? Hell, how about those “Black Tie” affairs?
    Why aren’t you Liberals screaming about the abridgment of your rights regarding those situations?
    The answer is, your rights stop where they impinge upon others.
    But here, it’s only a request, not a requirement.
    How would you like being a store owner and having a big fat guy come in wearing only a Speedo bikini? How would you relish taking care of him? Hey, if he’s legal in what he’s wearing, will you kick him out while he hangs around the candy counter and you see other customers come in with children and leave in disgust?
    Get a grip, people. This is a question of freedom to request. No one is demanding here. Pretty far from shariah law, if you ask me. Unless, that is, you equate a scowl with a beheading.

  • Julie

    Great. Have them make a polite request. But discriminating against customers over it would be illegal. Orange County residents should maintain vigilance to ensure that discrimination doesn’t become a de facto consequence.

    Why shouldn’t businesses be able to do it? For the same reason Cracker Barrel couldn’t refuse service to customers wearing yarmulkas.

    • Jon

      It’s not the same thing. A tank top and short shorts and dropping F bombs left and right does not a yamulka make, and you know it. Again…grow up.

  • simplemainer

    She has a very nice ass

  • Mhu Cao

    I’m sure the muzzies and the anyul left will play this up to find an equivalence. Sharia it’s not. STOP SHARIA!!!

  • Gnomish

    Common courtesy is to mind your business – which means how I dress is none of that.
    These crazy Abrahamists need a boot to the backside every time they stick they noses up somebody else’s butt. They aren’t polite- they are fanatic.

  • Julie

    I think the other residents of Orange county should go in male and female pairs, holding hands, dressed “normally” for average Orange County residents, and go to diners and shops and test for discrimination. If they find it, and the locals don’t cut it out, they should sue.

    If they asked blacks or latinos to please stay out, how would we be reacting? Or people who speak English as a second language to please only speak English in town, or to please avoid speaking their English with a foreign accent?

    This is the same thing.

    • lee1947

      Grow up.

    • Jon

      In other words, you think that displaying extreme lack of respect for others’ culture and values and trying to use the legal system to crucify people because of their religion and moral standards is acceptable. Typical. Do you vote democrat too?

      It isn’t discrimination to ask people to dress appropriately and conduct themselves like decent people. I don’t expect you to understand though, people like you are too angry and deluded to care. Grow up.

  • Exador

    Check out the hot little booty on Jessica. Any religion that wants to cover that up is just plain wrong.

  • lee1947

    If they had police enforcing this it would be a violation of our Civil Rights, however; it is a request paid for and displayed on privet property. It does not say they will not do business with you, arrest you, or do anything to you if you do not comply. This is no more than removing your shoes when entering a home in Japan. If this was a mainly Muslim Community I would be more upset as they are not ones to “request” and the ARE wanting to force Shari Law on everyone.

  • Jon

    All one has to do if they would rather dress less modesty and use profanity is take their business elsewhere. Nobody is saying they HAVE to visit that down, or do business there, and they haven’t passed any unconstitutional laws. Where’s the harm? My wife is a cute little blonde that often dresses like the girl in the picture, but she’s not arrogant or stupid enough to dress that way someplace where it isn’t all that acceptable, and then scream and demand that everyone else adjust to her way of thinking about this issue.

  • David

    If I start my own village, can I request that all women wear string bikinis?

    • dbdbdbdbdbdb

      Better have a weight limit, too. Be careful what you wish for.

      • Dangling Modifier


  • Julie

    I know the businesses haven’t been alleged to actually discriminate yet, but come on, are any of us naive enough to think a non-Hasidic-dressed couple would get the same service at local businesses as anyone else?

    • lee1947

      You most likely think that every police officer only stops people of color because they are raciest too. Get a grip.

  • carl

    when in Rome…

  • Kiryas George

    The girl is not dressed like a slut, she’s dressed for the weather. It seems some commenteres here are afraid of the female form, not sure why.

  • Julie

    I used to live in Orange County back in the 70’s. The hasidic folks didn’t have their little commune/enclave there then. If I lived in Orange County I’d be annoyed. If town businesses gang up and “reserve the right to refuse service” to anyone, they can essentially make their little enclave’s public areas someplace you can’t go if you aren’t dressed their way.

    Sure, this is alright in theory, but what if the rest of Orange County retaliated by saying you couldn’t get service if you were wearing the Hasidic folks common attire? Then there would be all kinds of calls of “discrimination” and sit-ins and lawsuits.

    Nobody said the businesses are refusing service, but I think if they start, the other Orange County residents should sue. The Hasidic folks basically moved in, bought up a bunch of land, and are now imposing a change in culture on the locals.

    No, it’s not okay–if the businesses start discriminating, which is the next obvious step.

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