Shadowy ‘Modesty Squads’ Police Ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn
“They operate like the Mafia,” Rabbi Allan Nadler, director of the Jewish studies program at Drew University, told the Times. “They walk into a store and say it would be a shame if your window was broken or you lost your clientele,” he said. “They might tell the father of a girl who wears a skirt that’s too short and he’s, say, a store owner: ‘If you ever want to sell a pair of shoes, speak to your daughter.’”
Many of the rules of conduct are focused explicitly on regulating what Hasidic women car wear in public, believing that an uncovered head or a skirt that reveals too much will arouse the sexual attention of men and boys.
But in places like Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the issue of non-compliance with ultra-Orthodox modesty rules has crept into neighboring secular areas. In 2009, Hasidic South Williamsburg community members successfully rallied to block a bike lane that brought outside bicyclists — specifically, women wearing shorts — through the neighborhood.
“I have to admit, it’s a major issue, women passing through here in that dress code,” Simon Weisser, a member of Community Board 1 in Williamsburg-Greenpoint, told the New York Post.