Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

8 Adar II 5760 - March 15, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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...And Here is the News... Horror! .... Poster Defaced!

by S. B. Abelesz

Boruch Hashem -- Australian non Jews have no worries.

Whilst the world media reports wars, disease, terrorism, starving children and earthquakes, which item makes the headlines in the all-important 6:00 pm news on Melbourne TV?

A defaced poster! Yes, that's it. A poster.

But let me start from the beginning.

The Adass Yisroel Shul in Melbourne, is situated in part of the East St. Kilda section -- known as Ripponlea. This area is home to many charedi Jews and has a number of other shuls including Lubavitch, Ger and the Lakewood Kollel. Whilst it is by no means a Williamsburg or Stamford Hill -- it is still outnumbered by non-Jews on all sides -- it is, (admittedly mainly due to the lack of competition) Yerusholayim D'Australia.

The tiny shopping strip on Glen Eira Road - right around the corner from the Shul, has a kosher fish shop, poultry and take-away, bakery, grocery, shomer Shabbos lawyer, computer shop, chemist and even the local hatzolo has its headquarters there.

It's friendly with a village atmosphere and you'll always find someone to have a chat with.

So imagine the hullaballoo, when on a recent Shabbos during mincha, someone breathlessly brought the news that a lewd ad has just been placed high up on the corner of "our" street and the other main thoroughfare -- Hotham Street -- diagonally across the road from the new premises of the Addas Yeshiva Ketana -- with 50 talmidim ( a wonderful mokom Torah of which we are all very proud and really deserves a separate article).

Plans were immediately made to contact the poster company on Monday morning and request them to remove the offensive sign.

Others, however, had different ideas. By late motzoei Shabbos some unknown person(s) had tossed a can of paint at the sign -- messing it up a bit but not really solving the problem.

By Monday morning both the poster company and the advertising agency had received calls requesting its removal. They were indeed understanding and cooperative and agreed to do so as soon as possible. Meanwhile, between mincha and maariv hushed discussions were taking place amongst some young people -- regarding the failure of the paint attack. This time, it seems, they planned it properly and by Wednesday morning the sign was "beautifully" almost professionally -- blacked out.

It seems that a high ladder and paint roller brushes were utilized most satisfactorily.

By Thursday the advertising agency had finalized their arrangements to change the poster and sent their staff to do the job. But not before someone contacted the Channel 7 television news, who promptly dispatched a team to Ripponlea to film the before (from another similar site) and after -- defacing.

Then came the interviews.

From the "Jewish" side they could only find a few Yeshiva bochurim -- who in their best "Adass- ish" English tried to explain why this poster was not appropriate -- at least in this location.

Then they interviewed some passing non-Jews who really didn't understand what the fuss was all about.

From 4 p.m. on, Channel 7 was repeatedly advertising on several radio stations that their all-important 6:00pm news presentation will feature: "Jewish community outrage on poster."

And so it came to pass, when 6:00 finally arrived, hundreds of thousands of Melbournians realized that the important news of the day was not the floods in Mozambique, the growing unemployment problem, the fighting in Chechenye or even the Australian government's failure to control some nursing homes in Melbourne -- where patients are being treated worse than animals, but rather that someone in the Jewish community actually defaced an offensive poster!

They actually even reproduced the letter of complaint sent by the Rosh Yeshiva! (Admittedly they didn't treat it as a very serious news item rather as an oddly and a not-everyday happening)

Actually, this parsha ended in a win-win situation for all.

The poster was removed, with the company promising to do all in their power to refrain from placing offensive ads in the neighborhood, whilst the company that advertised received several minutes of free publicity statewide -- valued at hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- of dollars.

So there you are.

Now you all know what is considered an important media even Down-Under.

Isn't Australia a wonderful medina?

Meanwhile on a serious note, the news has just reached us, that Australian born and in fact an ex-talmid of the Adass Yeshiva, Rabbi Moshe Radziminski of Ashdod, who heads the Vaad LeMaan Tohar Machenu in Israel -- which amongst its other functions, campaigns to remove offensive posters in Israel, has been given a $25,000 fine as well as a suspended 8 months jail sentence for trying to achieve what we did here.

And a word of advice to askonim everywhere. When trying to get companies to remove lewd signs, try to do it through the womenfolk. Somehow their requests are listened to more seriously (as even non-Jewish women often object to indecent and objectionable advertising).

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