Sign Urging Modest Dress in Central Petach Tikva


One of the things I love about Petach Tikva is its diversity. We have rich, poor, Russians, Ethiopians, Anglos, religious and secular. Even a few Christians and Arabs. So I don’t quite know what to think about this sign posted on Herzl Street near the center of town, on an abandoned building just opposite the Lomzhe yeshiva.

Translated, the sign reads: Daughter of Israel! The Torah commands you to dress in modest clothing. [Signed:] Residents of the neighborhood.

It’s true that a large number of young haredi families have moved into town, taking advantage of relatively inexpensive rentals in older buildings. But the only people I saw walking around last night were two yeshiva students taking something out of the Lomzhe yeshiva, and three older Russian ladies in sleeveless shifts.

As far as I know this is the first sign of its type in Petach Tikva. It’s an odd choice of location, since despite the yeshiva the area around Herzl Street is not a haredi neighborhood. But I guess to the people who posted it, that doesn’t really matter.

A while back a reader emailed that I should stop writing about charedi women and the way they dress. Since no one is telling me how to dress, she wrote, I should leave well enough alone. Well, I regularly walk down this block, which is about a ten-minute walk from my house.

I called the municipality to lodge a complaint. I doubt the building, which used to be an insurance agency, belongs to the yeshiva. The city has enforced laws about posting signs in the past.

Here’s a larger view:

Sign advocating modest dress in Petach Tikva, Israel

Thanks to Aaron H. for spotting the sign and letting me know.

Update: My son went by and saw two identical signs. I had missed one hung on an adjacent building.


Haredi Women Advised to Sit Separately from Immodestly Dressed Women

Children of Short-Skirt Wearers Threatened in Bnei Brak


  1. I called the municipality to lodge a complaint.
    How did they react?

  2. For the record, I think your posts about Haredi women and how they dress are interesting. A common complaint when I was in College is that Historians ignore women’s histrory. You are documenting that history in real time.
    I totally agree with you – the sign has got to go.

  3. Why does the sign (the content, let’s say) bother you?

  4. Hi and Shana Tova

    I have been here now for about 6 weeks and loving it. While on a walk on the chag, I also saw a sign about “Modest Dress” in the middle of Rehavia/Shaare Chessed! Right near the area of the Chabad shul and The Gra shul was a sign urging visitors to be modestly dressed. Don’t think it is a new one, didn’t look clean and crisp.

    I must tell everyone that this Shabbat while walking down Usisshkin to my apt. I was overcome with such a splendid feeling that filled my entire being – a feeling of tremendous inner joy just to be walking down a street in Yerushalayim.
    With that in mind, I posted this morning a video from WeJew on the Land of Israel and the Jewish People. I feel we need to keep in our hearts the reason why we are in our Beloved Land of Eretz Yisrael.

    PS anyone have a remedy for the mineral deposit lining the hot water urn every Motzei Shabbat?

  5. Hannah, these signs and stickers are found all around old Bet Shemesh. Usually the chozrim bitshuvah are the ones urging the females to dress modestly.
    Don’t feel threatened if you feel that you do your best in your modesty level (for the time being). It’s something you need to be comfortable with too or you might throw it out of the window one day when fed up.

    • Leah, I don’t want to relate to the sign in terms of anything I may or may not be doing. I have no connection to the person who put it up, whoever it is.

    • Leah – I may be misinterpreting your remarks but don’t you think it’s a little demeaning to console MiI that she’s fine as long as she’s “doing her best for the time being”? Unless I’m mistaken, the goal of Judaism is to come closer to Hashem – not wear thicker and thicker stockings.

  6. my own opinion, if Victoria Secret can put up huge billboards for their lingerie, then a group of people can promote modest dress.

    • Is it necessary, however, to use a guilt-inducing tone?
      What’s more, I have little doubt that in modest clothing means “like we deem right”.

      • hey if you’re feeling guilty, then their marketing campaign must be working. anyone working in the cosmetic or fitness marketing world knows how to use the words to make a woman feel that no matter what she looks like right now – it isn’t good enough and if she uses brand X she’ll be happier. how come that is ok, but a little modesty promotion isn’t?

        (playing devil’s advocate)

        • I am not saying that I feel guilty but that the tone is wrong. The land of israel is for Jews of all shapes, colors and opinions and they should not be pressurized by the hareidi in that manner.
          Concerning how I dress, I think I know the laws and I make my own choices. The rest is between me, or anyone for that matter, and God.
          Btw I am also rather immune to marketing campaigns of all sorts, except when they concern a brand whose symbol is an apple. 🙂

          • you can offer your marketing services to them, then 😉 maybe jazz up their campaign 🙂

            Will this type of campaign work? prob not, but that you or someone else doesn’t like it…well, why shouldn’t they be allowed to post when there are billboards and commercials for make up and lingerie and whatever else? I don’t like some ads, it just means i speak with my wallet and not buy their products.

            i know the reality of certain groups in Israel, it goes beyond just a poster and ends up in protest and sometimes violence, sadly.

        • I have to agree with Ilana-Davita. I don’t have a problem with a “modesty promotion,” but I think this goes beyond that. “Modesty” seems to be in the eye of the beholder, and the neighborhood seems to be defining it as they wish, whether or not the women are objectively modest. If the neighborhood thinks otherwise, there can be trouble (as I remember recalling a few years ago somewhere).

    • Those two things cannot even be compared. A poster of underwear will not affect my freedom in any way, except that I might subconsciously be affected by the commercial. No one is suggesting that you wear that underwear. And really, I don’t care how other people dress. But when someone is trying to actively affect the way I dress, or eat, or do things, I feel very threatened.

  7. I used to live around the corner from that building, and seeing the photo of sign there gave me a chill. But it may just be a nice tempting stretch of blank wall for someone walking around looking for a place to put that poster up.

  8. I’m with you, Hannah, I don’t want anyone telling me what is modest and what is not, just like I wouldn’t tell someone not to wear stockings and a long coat on a really hot day.

    Neshama, fill the urn with lemon salt (??? ?????, pour water in it and set it to boil. Rinse well afterward and you should see a big difference in the deposits. If it’s been a while since you’ve done this you may have to repeat the process.

  9. I’ve noticed a real backlash among my friends. A whole bunch of them have taken off their headcoverings and started wearing pants (oy vey!), and I think it’s mainly because they feel that they’re being judged by others and that they don’t want to meet those extra-stringent standards so why bother meeting any standards at all? (beyond their own standards of decency, of course)…

    I noticed on my recent trip to Finland that regular women wear skirts of knee-length or longer. Israelis who are not religious won’t because they don’t want to be viewed as religious.

    I think the signs are not achieving their stated goals.

  10. I’m probably a minority voice among the commentors, but felt I had to add my voice–even if it may be controversial. One reason I have no longer identify as Orthodox is the treatment of women. I think that these kinds of signs are dangerous and scary and there is a slippery slope from there to all kinds of abuse of women–both public as in (at the less violent end) refusing service to women who do not meet a particular standard of modesty and private–at its very worst, the violence that is partially sanctioned by this kind of objectification of women. I am really happy when I read posts like yours, Hannah, because it really is heartening for me to see religious women speaking out against these negative attitudes towards women. I am really in awe of the women like you who fight from within–especially because so often it seems like a losing battle (that is, the regression in attitudes towards women that has happened in many circles).

  11. Nurse Yachne says

    “‘In my youth,” said the old man, ‘I took to the law, and argued each case with my wife/And the muscular strength that it gave to my jaw has lasted the rest of my life'”–Lewis Caroll

    Nagging is perhaps best understood as an isometric exercise, which is to say that it’s a strain and you get nowhere.

    I suspect the naggers subconsciously know this already. Since nagging is ineffective in improving the conduct of our brethren, I suspect that you all are correct that this is a borderline-abusive means of gaining control.

    After all, we can’t have all these hussies strutting around brazenly in their loose, ankle-length denim skirts and baggy three quarter tricot t-shirts.

  12. Nurse Yachne says

    By the way, MIS, my married daughter (+1) thinks your nursing advice really rocks. She and her husband live on a hilltop and raise goats, 3 dogs, and one baby.

  13. MII,

    I have a real problem with signs like these (they remind me of those in Mea Shearim). I respect the fact that the neighborhood is trying to maintain their character, but I seem to remember hearing about these signs popping up in areas that weren’t always haredi and the problems that resulted.

    What really worries me is that some in these neighborhoods are going to enforce the “dress code” with stones. If the thoroughfare is a public one, the neighbors may PREFER that women dress modestly, but if they take matters into their own hands to ENFORCE the “rules,” especially on a public thoroughfare, they are setting religious-secular relations back years. I suppose that if you know you are going to a particular neighborhood you may need to be aware of such sentiments, but sometimes the enforcement of the mores is problematic.

  14. Another thought: why can’t you just go take the sign down? Research has shown that taggers lose interest if their work is erased/painted over right away – might the same logic apply here?

    A few summers ago here residents who live on the street closest to the public beach started putting homemade “no parking” signs next to the street in front of their houses…amazing how those signs disappeared as quickly as they were put up…

  15. Nurse Yachne says

    Greetings sent. She’s a graduate of Ulpanat Kfar Pines, and she has a network of very dynamic friends from all over the country. They got an education that was empowering in ways my oppressive, who’s-dating-whom co-ed high school never was.

    Some of these girls may be among the first Jewish women since the Tanakh to be truly free, truly empowered by their motherhood, by their new definitions of what constitutes fashionable modest clothing, and by the 9000 ways they can wrap a headkerchief.

    It is a joy to see and be part of her supportive network of Jewish mothers, and I thank you for being part of that web.

  16. Signs and tznius talks all only seem to preach to the converted. I doubt that that a woman who wears short skirts would chuck them all because of a sign.

  17. Let me point out that the sign was supposed to be in the name of the neighborhood residents. That’s ridiculous. The neighborhood has a number of mixed Ashkenazi/Mizrachi religious people in it, mostly non-chareidi. Judging from the New Year’s Eve parties and Santa Clauses I used to see up that street around December and January, there are a certain number of non-Jews or very secular Russians, as well as your common or garden secular Israelis. As I said, I know, I used to live there. It seems to me the work of some inspired idiot with a couple of posters and some free time. BTW, Hannah, I only saw one poster there a few days ago when I happened to be passing by.

  18. The Other Hand says

    It’s fascinating how much people read into these signs. The only thing that is obviously true about these signs is that from the PoV of those who post them, they are efforts to improve their environment and to help themselves feel more comfortable.Why assume that they are interested in making other people uncomfortable? All of the uncomfortable feelings expressed here are due to unnecessary associations in people’s minds.

    How would you feel if you saw a sign asking people to be careful not to throw litter around and to try to keep the neighborhood tidy?

    How would you feel about a sign on a ship asking people not to drill holes in the floors of their cabins?

    Modesty affects others. Why shouldn’t people be able to advertise reminders or express preferences if they want to?

    If the sign doesn’t speak to you, then either they failed or they aren’t targeting you. But why complain?

    • The Other Hand–your examples don’t work because they are directed equally to everyone, and affect everyone equally. The posted sign was by people implying that they are the “owners” of the neighborhood and can dictate the religious standards. How would you feel about signs in a neighborhood in New York asking people not to wear kippot? Let’s say they felt it encouraged the wrong element to move in. I’m just making it up. But would that kind of suggestion for “improvement” of the environment be okay?

      • The Other Hand says

        “Everyone” does not have the right to dress however they want if that means not being fully dressed, which is in fact a widespread fashion. The residents of the neighborhood in the land that Hashem gave to the Jewish people on condition that we keep the Torah do have the responsibility to live according to the Torah and they need to make an effort not to be negatively affected by people walking through in immodest dress. You care more for the freedom to walk around undressed than for G-d and the people who fear him. You insist on seeing these standards as relative personal choices. You show that your religion is political correctness and not Judaism.


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