Refaeli and Tor. Damaging sensibilities?
Photo: Anat Mossberg

Haredim oppose Bar Refaeli billboards

Ultra-Orthodox media outraged after huge pictures advertising FOX fashion chain return to Ayalon Highway. Chairman of Holiness and Education Watch: Pictures damage holiness of every Jew. Company in response: Posters are within bounds of good taste

Nearly two years after they were taken down, the massive billboards have been reinstated on the Ayalon Highway. Green organizations and lobbyists for road safety are joined in their opposition to the advertisements by new brothers in arms: The ultra-Orthodox.


The haredi media is all abuzz after the "vain pictures" of model Bar Refaeli appeared on advertisements for FOX along the highway. The "modesty lobbyists" have already declared war against the popular clothing chain: "We will fight them with all our might."


The website "Haredim" reported extensively Thursday on "a crass and rude advertising campaign like none other" and said that the accompanying television version of the ads managed to shock "even non-religious viewers." According to the newspaper, the haredi public must "got to war for its right to live according to its beliefs."


The Holiness and Education Watch Chairman Rabbi Mordechai Balloy even hinted that he would initiate a boycott of FOX when he noted that "thousands of haredim buy at the chain."


According to him, "The haredi public does not cease to finance those who damage it… the recent rude campaign does not prevent thousands of young haredim from buying at this chain. It must be understood that this is not a joke. 'Pictures of vanity' are not a catch phrase. They damage the holiness of every Jew."


'Space is ours, too'

Balloy added that public space in secular Tel Aviv also belongs to haredim. "Eleven thousand children in this city are educated in haredi schools," he said. "Even the bus companies understood a long time ago that vain advertisements must not be placed on buses in the city."


The rabbi ensured that together with other bodies will fight the clothing chain and the advertising company with everything in his capacity "in order to remove this abomination from the city street." And what of the parallel internet and television spots? "They are also disturbing and painful to us, but we only take action when we are really forced to see forbidden images in the middle of the street," said the rabbi.


The haredi news website "Behadrei Haredim" also reported on "the vain and abominable advertisements that pull down the field of advertising in Israel to a level that evokes criticism and opposition also within the secular population."


At the beginning of the article, the author wondered, "Will haredim have to find alternative routes for going to Tel Aviv?" He mentioned that "a year ago a despicable advertisement was shown on television showing a naked man and naked woman."


The website also published a debriefing of those responsible for the campaign. The findings: "The owners of the chain are a religious family and Avraham, who serves as the company's CEO, walks around with a knitted kippah on his head."


The website decided to come to the defense of the other partner in the business: "Lev Leviev holds about 20% of the successful clothing company, but he does not set the company's marketing policy."


FOX said in response that "the said advertising is part of FOX's winter campaign and the pictures shown representing day-to-day situations familiar to everyone. They are within the bounds of good taste. This advertising had no intention of hurting the feelings of any sector, especially not those of the haredi public. The FOX chain serves, and will continue to serve loyally all of its customers from the various sectors."


פרסום ראשון: 10.26.09, 15:09
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