Greenfield Outraged at Atheist Billboard Targeting Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish Community

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Brooklyn – Councilman David G. Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) is voicing his outrage at advertising company Clear Channel’s decision to allow a sign mocking the Jewish faith to be installed on a billboard overlooking the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Greenpoint. As the only Orthodox Jew in the New York City Council and the elected official who represents the largest Jewish population in the United States, Greenfield explained that the billboard is offensive and an unprovoked attack on the Jewish community. Greenfield is asking Clear Channel to respect the beliefs and rights of Brooklyn’s Jewish community and immediately remove the offensive sign.

“This billboard is meant to offend a large group of people and attack their religion. While I firmly believe in freedom of religion and speech, the placement of this offensive message on private property is a clear affront to the large Jewish community in Brooklyn. In this day and age, there’s no need for this kind of attack on any religion or group. With that in mind, the property owner should do the right thing and have the advertisement removed immediately out of respect to the community,” said Greenfield.

The billboard was installed at the corner of Stewart Avenue and Thomas Street in Greenpoint earlier this month and refers to G-d as “a myth” in both English and Hebrew. The group behind the advertisement, American Atheists, had first sought to install the sign on a building on South 5th Street in Williamsburg in the heart of one of the largest Jewish communities in Brooklyn, but the owner of that building objected to the message contained on the billboard. Despite the relocation, the sign is still prominently displayed at the entrance to one of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities outside Israel.

In addition to the offensive message contained in the advertisement, Greenfield objects to the group’s use of G-d’s name in its original Hebrew form as written in the Torah. According to the Jewish faith, this name is never written or spoken, so having it included on the billboard, especially in this context, is deeply offensive. “As if calling our religion a myth wasn’t outrageous enough, this group ensured that the sign would be written in a way that breaks one of the major tenants of Jewish belief,” said Greenfield. “Quite simply, this sign is a stick in the eye of the Orthodox Jewish community and must be removed immediately.”

(YWN Desk – NYC)




19 COMMENTS

  1. “While I firmly believe in freedom of religion and speech…”

    No, apparently you do not. Freedom of speech isn’t freedom of saying anything, except that which offends David Greenfield. People can put whatever they’d like on their private property. If you’d like, perhaps you can buy the billboard and only allow things that go along with things in which you believe.

  2. Oy, I saw this sign today and did not understand what I was seeing. (Stopping on the BQE to read carefully is not an option).

  3. get one or two large Jewish clients that use clear channel to call and persuade clear channel that it would be in their best professional interest to remove the ad….

  4. Councilman David Greenfield is absolutely right. It may be freedom of speech, but it is also freedom of speech to ask them to take it down. This billboard has no place in our Diverse City where we all should get along and it sends the wrong message.

  5. Why outrage? There is freedom of speah here and I don’t think anyone who sees the billboard is going to give up Yiddishkeit and become an athiest.

    Election campaign posters posted on lamp posts illegaly are more offensive to me.

  6. This Freedom of Speech is peculiar. If someone were to express anything to the negative about blacks (or African-Americans, or whatever label is accepted at the moment) or Muslims, it would be attacked as racist, bigoted, and would be considered a “hate crime” even if no crime was committed. But if it is intended to irritate, mock, or anger Jews, it is suddenly a protected constitutional right. Democracy is to be questioned if “free speech” is limited to only certain situations.

  7. Freedom of religion and speech are probably the most-enjoyed freedom we Jews have here and we take full of advantage of it. However, when it comes to someone else’s freedom of speech, and it happens to offend Jews, you seem to think that your rights and freedoms are more valid than the next person’s. Now it’s perfectly ok to be ‘outraged’ and ‘demand’, as they apparently are, but don’t trample on the other person’s rights. It’ll just make all Jews look like hypocrites.
    For the record, I’m not condoning the billboard at all, and I understand completely those who are offended, but enduring idiots like the makers of this sign is the price of living in such a country. And making a big noise about them isn’t gonna change their intentions, anti semitism, or idiotic ideals, so we just have to bear it and not take these morons so personally.

  8. Its seems to me that nobody has any clue as to what freedom of speech means. the constitution was not written for one citizen to control another it was written for us citizens to control the government. the government cannot infringe on our right to free speech, but one citizen against another has all the right to do so. greenfield is not saying its illegal to have the billboard up but he can intimidate them into taking it down as long as they are not arrested, we can do what ever we want to get it down

  9. This is not at all an issue of free speech. If Greenfield were suggesting that the courts take down the sign, it would be an issue of free speech. He is merely asking the private owners to act in a mentchlech fashion. There is nothing wrong with refraining from putting up billboards that you know will agitate and offend large numbers of people. That is all Greenfield is asking for.
    As to all the commentors that don’t seem to mind about the presence of such a sign, I think they ought to think deeply if a large, public sign stating that they personally are idiots, would bother them. If it would, I think there is something seriously wrong with them.

  10. BaalSechel you crack me up! 🙂 Idiots will be idiots no mater how big the sign is. The problem is, this billboard is like a Goy standing at your front door yelling to you inside “kosher chazir!,kosher chazir! I know you want it! It smells good, come get your treiff meat! It’s more of an annoyance then a violation of free speech.

  11. David Greenfield is a councilman. He is also a frum guy. He is also a brilliant lawyer. As Mr. Greenfield points out in his statement – this billboard is on PRIVATE PROPERTY. Anything on Private Property has NOTHING to do with Free Speech. It is up to the OWNER to decide what he or she wants to put up.

    For example, if a Jew owned a billboard a Neo-nazi could not force the Jew to put up a “we hate Jews” sign. Similarly, the owners of this billboard does not HAVE to put up this sign. Greenfield is fighting for us and our children.

    Thank you R’ Dovid! Tizkeh Lemitvos!

  12. And of course with the shem hashem on it, it cant even be accidentally burned down.

    But of course they wont change location. Where else to put their poster mocking/attacking Jews other than a Jewish neighborhood. Where did you expect them to put it? In Puerto Rico? The poster campaign is inflammatory and derogatory and should be abandoned.

  13. Why exactly shouldn’t religions receive ridicule? Every other aspect of human choice gets thrown on the grill -politics, sports, fashion, food.

  14. As the one who reported this to Mr Greenfield, I have to say that many of you may be missing the point. True, the advertising company has a right to free speech, and thus may put up advertisements for whatever they may want. However, as religious Jews, it is our responsibility to make a M’cha if we see something profaning the name of Hashem this way.

    Even if we are not able to do anything about it, we can at least mitigate the Chillul Shem Hashem by letting them know that we are not ok with them using Hashem’s name this way