A London council has removed ambiguous posters placed around the borough by orthodox Jews for their Torah procession, which took place earlier this week.
The posters, which read “Women should please walk along this side of the road only,” were designed by the Jewish community to ensure that men and women who were not married or related didn’t touch during the procession, as their religion demands, but the local councillor deemed the posters “offensive” and had them removed.
“Several residents in my ward in Stamford Hill have drawn these posters to my attention,” local Labour councillor Rosemary Sales told the Evening Standard.
“It is of course quite unacceptable to try to restrict women’s movements in a public place and council officers removed these posters as soon as it was reported to them.”
A spokesman for Hackney Council said “As soon as the signs were brought to the Council’s attention they were removed.”
Police Superintendent Andy Walker also confirmed that he had spoken to the event organisers about “potential misinterpretation” of the signs, adding: “They have agreed that next year they will only by written in Hebrew and will be removed more swiftly after the event.”
Chaim Hochhauser, from the Stamford Hill Shomrim group (a Jewish neighbourhood watch – ‘shomrim’ means ‘watchers’ or ‘guards’ in Hewbrew), contacted the procession organisers to discuss the matter.
“We didn’t know much about these posters until it was brought to our attention later on. We have since contacted the event organisers, and explained that these posters lacked explanation in the English text, and therefore could have offended people who don’t understand the Hebrew wording and the logo,” he said.
In an unconnected event, posters quoting lines from the Torah condemning homosexuality were also removed after being placed on noticeboards in nearby Amhurst Park.There are more than 20,000 Haredi Jews living in the Stamford Hill area, making it the third largest Haredi community in the world.