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June 2, 2016 6:32 am

Jewesses Bathing in Public Pools? New York Times Editorial Writers Can’t Stand the Stench

avatar by Ira Stoll

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The New York Times takes issue with women-only days at a public swimming pool in Brooklyn. Photo: Wikipedia.

The New York Times takes issue with women-only hours at a public swimming pool in Brooklyn. Photo: Wikipedia.

The latest salvo in the New York Times campaign against Orthodox Judaism is an editorial condemning the New York City Parks department for accommodating religious swimmers — and, for that matter any other women who prefer not to be gawked at by men while bathing — by providing women-only hours at a public swimming pool in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The Times complains of what it calls a “strong odor of religious intrusion into a secular space.” The classically nasty antisemitic trope of accusing Jews of emitting a distinctive odor has been in the news recently as the result of a Harvard law student asking a visiting Israeli lawmaker why she was so “smelly,” drawing a condemnation from the dean of the law school. The Times didn’t see fit to cover that story; if it had, perhaps the editorial writers would have been more careful in their word choice.

But poor word choice is only the beginning of the trouble with this editorial.

It also displays alarming ignorance of the political geography of Brooklyn. The editorial refers to Dov Hikind as “the local assemblyman.” But Mr. Hikind represents Borough Park and Midwood, not Williamsburg, which is miles away. It’s almost as if those Times editorial writers can’t tell one smelly Jewish neighborhood, or politician, from another.

Additionally — and not least — the Times editorial is massively hypocritical. Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger, the grandmother of the publisher of the Times, was from 1937 to 1968 a board member of Barnard College, a women-only institution. We’re waiting for the Times editorials calling on the federal government to cut off research funding and Pell Grant availability to Barnard, on the grounds that its doors are closed to male students. The Times complains that allowing women-only swimming for a few hours a week at one of the city’s many public pools renders the pool “unmoored from the laws of New York City and the Constitution, and commonly held principles of fairness and equal access.” What about a man who wants to attend Barnard?

The Times, in a 1997 editorial, even acknowledged, albeit grudgingly, that “it is possible that offering quality single-sex education as part of a diverse menu of voluntary choices available to all public-school children could pass muster under Federal civil rights law and the Constitution.” So single-sex math and gym classes can be acceptable, at least in theory, but if a New York woman wants to swim some laps in her bathing suit without the male gaze, the Times declares that it is prima facie unconstitutional? It’s almost enough to make a person imagine that what the Times is against is not taxpayer-funded single-sex environments, but anything that Orthodox religious Jews — most of whom, by the way, are paying taxes for public schools that they do not use — might find useful or enjoyable.

There’s one final way in which the Times editorial is hypocritical, which is its rejection of what it calls “a theocratic view of government services” or the “odor of religious intrusion into a secular space,” and its preference, instead, for what it calls “public, secular rules.” There are at least two recent instances where the Times itself pleaded for religion to influence public policy.

There was the June 2, 1962 editorial, headlined “Guilt,” in which the Times reacted to Israel’s execution of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann by concluding, “The statesmanship that might help us today is found in several of the great religions. It is known to many of us as the Sermon on the Mount.”

And, as Adam White astutely pointed out on Twitter, there was a September 2015 editorial, “Pope Francis’ Challenge to America,” in which the Times delighted in the Pope’s pressing Congress to abolish the death penalty, save the environment and fight income inequality.

In other words, when it’s liberal Christian ideas influencing public policy, the Times seems to be considerably less absolutist in its opposition to theocracy. It’s only when Orthodox Jews are around that the Times turns up its nose at the “strong odor of religious intrusion.”

If anything stinks around here, it’s not the Jewish swimmers, but the ignorance and double standards of the Times editorialists.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • David Pinto

    Ira, you say:
    The Times complains of what it calls a “strong odor of religious intrusion into a secular space.” The classically nasty antisemitic trope of accusing Jews of emitting a distinctive odor …
    Ira, the phrase … “a strong odor of religious intrusion … ” is a metaphor … it does not refer to an actual smell.

    • Reuven Rosenberg

      I’m sure Ira understands that it’s a metaphor. Another metaphor could have been used. There are many possibilities.

  • I don’t understand what the commotion is all about. Look, if women feel the need for women-only swim time whether for religious reasons or any other, then why don’t they all chip in and open their own swimming pool and not one which is publicly funded. Actually, it would be a good way to promote mutual cooperation between Muslims and Jews since both of these require a modest environment according to their respective religions. Oh, and by the way, who the hell still reads the NY Times?

    • It is unfortunate that the Framers could not foresee the rise of the new religion called secularism. Alas it has no rich .org etc. we can prosecute or sue for leading its adherents astray.

      • I agree with you. & I’ve been saying (asking?) for a good many years that having a belief in something not provable, “there is no GOD” is as much a FAITH as any religion. Since there is really NO ban on Religion in the US Constitution…it only prohibits the establishment of a STATE RELIGION… ie: Church of England, the courts & various gov’t entities & beaurocratic rules & laws have in essence DONE what ‘they’ claim to be fighting. With no absolute evidence to the contrary, we’ve witnessed the establishment of a state religion (non-religion?) backed by gov’t & our courts.
        BTW: With all the non-thinking blind-cult believing of the politically “correct” left & my being in N.C., I’d assume the NY Times is FOR those women being forced to change, shower, use the same bathrooms, lockers etc. facilites as “unfinished” transgenders

  • Doris

    Separate bathing hours are common in many places, with no regard to this or other religion. I remember such practice e.g. at Lake Zurich in Switzerland, certainly not for the few hundred Jewish women living there.

  • lena866

    “Jewess” ??!! Really? Are we animals (lioness) ? Would you use the term “Negress?” Sheesh !

    • Lauren Goldman

      Sadly, I have heard this term with increasing regularity and it is rampant on the Internet on ant-Semitic sites.

  • Eh.

    The practice of segregated public swimming areas is sexist and should be roundly condemned. I’m Jewish and I find this indefensible. However, the editorial could have been worded better.

    The other real problem is the double standards of the Times. Similar bathing practices to accommodate Muslim women are presented in another article as an example of a public good.

    I see no difference between women only swimming times and whites only swimming times. Both are equally bad.

    • Charlotte Greenbarg

      You make no distinction between women who have asked to have separate swim times and non-whites who wanted to swim with everyone else but weren’t permitted to. And you call segregated public swimming sexist. Where to start dissecting your stream of consciousness ramblings?

      Classic far left authoritarianism. Everything they disagree with is sexist, racist, name your “ist.”

      I’m Jewish too, NPA (No Party Affiliation) and look with disbelief at the twisted rationale.

    • Zev

      Stacy, I see your point. Unfortunately, you fail to recognize the obvious double standard your supposition presents.

      After all, why do you feel so aggrieved by other people practicing what they believe? Shouldn’t we be tolerant of others’ views and long-standing religious practices?

      If, for example, the ACLU sued a certain municipality for failing to accommodate separate swimming times for transgender people who, because of their unique lifestyles, felt uncomfortable swimming with cisgender individuals, would you feel the same? Surely it wouldn’t be long before we see an article in NY Times praising such a lawsuit and encouraging separate swimming.

      It’s just a hypothetical, but there’s a point to it. Why are so many liberals, who demand tolerance of others’ views, so intolerant when it comes to something they personally disagree with?

      Anyway, I hope this gets you to think a bit about diversity and inclusion, and the overall hypocrisy of the left.

    • A Switzer

      Toronto has public swimming pool hours for women only to accommodate Muslim women, many more of whom are orthodox than Jews in this city. No on complains. We call it multiculturalism, and religious accommodation. Maybe we should invit NY Times to visit since they seem so ignorant. Whether I support it or not, it’s I creasing ly the case. In canada we have always funded both public/secular education and Catholic education. We have. Black high school though black children can attend any other public school. Thus is an effort to meet their needs and keep them in a school void of racism (assuming it’s not anti white but who knows), and we find many special programs. Kids with hearing loss have segregated classrooms, if preferred. So, let’s not get upset about every instance if separation, if it doesn’t infringe on anyone’s rights.

    • Sarah

      Completely segregated public swimming areas are problematic — OTOH, the choice of an hour or 90 minutes of women-only/men-only swimming is just that–a choice. The majority of the public who doesn’t feel it is necessary can swim in the other 11 hours of the day the pool is open while allowing this choice to religiously observant Jewish and Muslim swimmers AND to my lesbian friends who dislike swimming with men. I swim in mixed pools myself but have often considered choosing the women’s hours to save myself the “accidental” gropings and the male bullies who use their size to run over me in the lane.

    • Brian Griffin

      Well put Stacy; I am in complete agreement with you.

      Many moons ago I learned a valuable and simple lesson from my dear mother:

      Ignore the ignorants!

      Trust me, nothing drives them madder than this.

  • t h schottenstein


  • Alan Weberman

    Don’t use the word Jewess it is perjorative

  • nat cheiman

    That Harvard law student is a disgusting piece of work. The stench of religious discrimination is what actually smells

    • Brian Griffin

      That’s not all Nat Cheiman…Barack Obama is a also a Harvard graduate. Will that student dare mention the stench now?

      I notice something interresting: the more people are antisemites, the greener with envy they seem and that can’t be good for their blood pressure.

  • Steven F. Solomon

    Just more of the same from the Left-leaning and anti-semitic media. One wonders if they purposely screen potential employees to be sure they are self-loathing Jews prior to hiring. I cancelled my subscription to that shmatte years ago.

  • Gillian

    I note that Muslim women are not mentioned, only Jewish and they would be far more likely to use such a facility.

    As for women only, not such a bad idea because some women prefer not to be ogled by men. Perhaps they should introduce a men only session to be fair so that men aren’t ogled by women!

    • Ilbert

      Having a male only time would work for many religious Jewish and Muslim men who will not go to swimming pools if there are women in the pool. Far too many liberals are not as inclusive as they claim, it is a great idea to have male only time.

  • I’m sure you don’t need to go back all the way to 1962 to find instances of the Times favoring religious institutions or accommodations.

    How about reaction to Muslims building a mosque at ground zero?

    Public policy and religion? How about New York adding Muslim holy days to the school calendar?

    How about the fashion world being influenced by Muslim styles?

    And on, and on, and on.

  • the “odor of religious intrusion into a secular space,”….
    Anyone heard of advertising in the TIMES for Christmas sales, photos of Christmas trees, the Christmas parade, etc.? Any way you slice up the word, be it Christ or Mass, this is a Christian intrusion into the secular space. To avoid the charge of hypocracy, the TIMES must refuse any inclusion of the name of that holiday into its holy secualar pages.

  • Ani

    Sadly not surprising that the NYT would take this stance. Ironic though as the all woman/girl swim time isn’t open to just Jewish women but to any female. Observant Muslim women and girls or those women who would just rather swim with only the gals can also take advantage of this opportunity. I’d guess that if it was a time set aside only for trans folks, the NYT would wholeheartedly approve of it. Jews though? No way……..

  • Mr Pope, if anyone should know it must be you. Poor people have existed since the dawn of time and they have yet to learn that the only helping hand they can ever expect are the ones that are attached to the ends of their arms. You cannot take from those who have and give it to those who have not as you will only make all people as have nots. Education is the start of freedom so why do you not use the Catholic billions to build more schools and educate people to work and not demand.There are 2 types of people and they are the ‘wills’ and there are the ‘will nots’. None of us deserve anything other than the right to make our own lives better. This attitude has resulted in those who work for a living and those who vote for a living. If we try to reap what others sow soon all production will cease and begging bowls will become the order of the day as it is in so many countries of the world.

  • Channa

    I am disgusted by NY Times article and its anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-women and most of all anti freedom of choice article.
    Of course, their comments about Jewish women is the most upsetting of all and I think an apology, at the very least, is needed.
    I would add that even in stuffy old Britain we have ‘women only’ swimming time which enables many women, of many persuasions, to exercise and enjoy themselves when they would not be able to in a mixed setting.
    Think the NY Times has produced another sloppy, biased and racist article showing the lengths it will go to in order to attack Jews.

  • Gail Weiss

    Keep up the good work, Ira. We have been reading your articles, and we are so proud of all the Crimson staff who have made it in the world of journalism. We stopped getting the Sunday Times years ago, due to Roger Cohen’s anti-Israel comments and the far too left leaning content disguised as “news.”

    Unfortunately, we still have friends who swear by the New York Times. They hesitate to read The Wall Street Journal because it is too “capitalistic.” Yet some of these NY Times devotees have Bernie Sanders signs out side their pricey Potomac homes. I asked these same friends when there were letting the Syrian refugees into their homes. But equality is rhetoric, and nothing else.

    Best wishes, Gail and David Weiss (Parents of Joanna)

  • Robert Davis

    I cannot understand why the NYT’s owner does not fire all those antisemitic editors and fake journalists from his newspaper which is more filthy, smelly and inacceptable by the day.

  • I just wrote my comment and submitted it. If it’s not to your liking, that’s too bad.

  • I think it’s a wonderful idea to have special hours for women to bathe alone. Even for non-religious, most women over a certain age would prefer to bathe without men gawking at them. When you get to middle age, most women would prefer to keep their bulges a secret from men ! Why is it so difficult to arrange a couple of hours mornings for women to enjoy themselves alone?

    • Nancy Sloane

      Thanks for expressing my thoughts exactly. After 2 pregnancies and some weight gain then major weight loss, I don’t feel comfortable letting anyone stare at my body. I’m even somewhat uncomfortable when I’m wrapped in a modest one-piece suit, even if the gawker is female. It will be easier for me to get the exercise I want and need when I’m more comfortable in the surroundings of a women only environment.

  • Joy D. Brower

    I’m surprised that the writer – and even the NY Times, for that matter – failed to recognize another “fundamentalist” religion that demands separate swimming hours for women – and that’s Islam! They have been pressing this point throughout the major capitals of Europe and, I think I read, in some parts of the USA where there is a significant Muslim population (Dearborn, etc. etc.). Having men watch women in swim suits in a co-ed environment is not only a pet peeve of religious Jews! If the NYT had, indeed, cited the religious preferences of observant Muslims, I highly doubt they would have called them “smelly!” What hypocrites at the NY Slimes!

  • In the UK, swimming pools all over the country have women-only sessions several times a week, and it is not just for orthodox Jews and orthodox Muslims but for lots of women who prefer to swim without men being present. I bet the NYT would not complain if the swimmers were all Muslim!

  • Disgusting and racist is all that I can think of to describe the New York Times. Any other terms that I can think of would bring me down to the same smell of rubbish that the NYT exudes. This paper is a disgrace to the USA and to journalism. If the NYT had this to say about Muslims the paper would be bombed.

  • Yudi

    Interesting to see the Times coverage of a similar story with Muslims in Toronto

  • why dont we just come out and say what we all know is increasingly true: the NYT is not only anti Israel (i.e. pro some very secular liberalist vision of Israel it cooked up with walt disney), it is also anti Orthodox Judaism (any Judaism that isnt as close to assimilated liberal left wing bagels and lox ethnicity as it can get, without the ‘odor’ of lox or course). it’s long been a hopeless mess when it comes to any unassimilated Jews and Judaism. It wouldnt dare write the stuff it writes and print it about jews and judaisms about christians and christianity or islam and moslems. it needs its soul washed as well as its mind, let alone a change of editors.

  • Isahiah62

    interesting the same writers never criticized or commented negatively about all the pools closed for Muslimas, and will be the first to cry RACIST at anyone who objects to it.

  • Jeff Dubitsky

    Oh my gosh, here I am living in Florida and the stench of the New York Times has reached all the way down here. Well, the article proves once again, the NYT is not a paper worth reading and certainly does not have much news “fit to print”.

    • Brian Griffin

      Reading a trash article like this makes me proud to be Israeli-Canadian. I myself don’t care for public swimming in general but here in Canada, there are special times for “women only” swimming and that is for women of any faith; no one raises a stink about it…it’s just the public swimming rules.

      The best of luck on your November elections…It is going to be a tough decision time for Americans.

  • NYCView

    The NYT undoubtedly jumped on the bandwagon when it came to the “odor” of sexual intrusion by compelling all of society to forego all personal vestiges of civilized decency and fling the bathroom doors open to anyone’s individual sexual “identity.”

    But, then again, what would “progressiveness” be without hypocrisy and double standards…..

  • Dave

    NYT grows more disgusting by the day.

  • Rod Adair

    There is nothing “Christian” about the New York Times. And the more or less aggressively ignorant Pope does not in any sense represent Christianity. It is unfair to allude to any of his ramblings as “Christian.” It is best to just use the term “liberal.” Using liberal and Christian together is almost always an oxymoron.

    For both the Times and the Pope it would be better to create a new term, “Christianic,” that would represent someone having a veneer or representing a popular concept of that are thought to be Christian trappings or beliefs. The Pope represents merely the Roman Catholic Church which has little to do with actual New Testament Christianity.

  • MEcklund

    How terrible to write something like that. God will take care of you for that. !!!

    • Brian Griffin

      Trust me MEcklund, HE WILL!!

  • its

    And what about those who want to bathe nude. Are they being treated unfairly because they are not allowed to do so in a public pool? And what about a woman who wants to swim topless just like men? Are they being treated unfairly?
    And what about women who want to nurse their infants uncovered? Are they being treated unfairly? The only thing the Times is good for is to wrap old smelly FISH.

  • ART

    I wonder how the nyt would react if it were a group of religious muslim women demanding the separate bathing privilege

  • Jane South

    So totally disgusted with the Times…I will never pick it up again.

  • Russell Mollot

    Just wanted to thank Mr. Stoll for saying what needed to be said.

  • Sally

    My local community center, Bronx House, has always had a swim class for orthodox Jewish men and another for orthodox Jewish women. But non orthodox swimmers of the designated sex can join them. Nobody ever protested, since we have many swim hours available throughout the week. Bronx House is funded by the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, NYC Dept. for the Aging, and also has Pre-K classes. It has a Drama, Music and Dance academy, after school care, and summer camp programs.

    This NYTimes editorial is ridiculous. Someone up high must have said look around for an opportunity to bash Jews and they came across the pool schedule and said Eureka! And they must have specifically said to throw the word smelly in there a couple of times.

  • “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Therefore, Observant Jews are free to exercise their religious beliefs, as long as the U.S. Constitution is in effect. And may we never take the U.S. Constitution for granted.

  • Rabbi Chaim Wasserman

    Great analysis of the cancer called NYT.
    What are the dates of these editorials?

  • Lia

    Mr Stoll, I appreciate your media critiques and the fact that you are a media watchdog of great tenacity and probity. I read all your articles, though I never read the NYT any more. Its total lack of professionalism and journalism has done it a great disservice.

  • Uriel Priwes

    The New York Times,being a smelly newspaper, I,s certainly qualified to write about smelly people.

  • It is a real stretch linking the reference of odor to antisemitism. You are really crying wolf here and undermining your cause. Sure, the New York Times is less pro Israel than we would like, but segregation hours for a public pool is not going to be accepted in most of America. Imagine if a municipality were doing this for Muslim women? You would be crying about religion and separation of state. I would. The editorial is a completely legitimate point of view.

    • Brian Griffin


      Not so long ago, people of color (Blacks) were not allowed in public swimming pools.

      If any municipality is granting “women only swimming hours” it will be appreciated by women of all faith not wanting to mix with men or children during their swimming pleasure; so yes, it will be a great idea even if your tiny chauvinistic mind can’t comprehend that.

  • Leon Szyfer

    I guess NYT would not write anything if it were Muslim women.

  • naro narosky

    The NYTimes has been anti semitic for quite a long time. There is a false impression that it is owned by Jews where in fact its owner is an Episcopalian who obviously detests his family’s Jewish heritage. The editorial page editor Rosenthal is a Catholic with a Jewish name. The NY Times is utterly despicable when it comes to Jews and Israel.

  • Joe Pimpernel

    The Slimes would have no problem with this accommodation were it for Mooslims women.

  • Daniel Mahpour

    This is really serious and has to be dealt with in much stronger terms. The author has to be put to shame and if possible legal action should be taken. Ban on this antisemitic paper has to be much more well known and publicized.
    Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  • Judith

    They’re hoping for a lawsuit. I’m sure someone will bring one, unless of course, Muslim women start frequenting the pool!

  • Dorothy Seidel Wigod

    Everything that needed to be said, and very well said indeed.
    Thank you, Mr. Stoll.

  • Yes… and/but Clyde Haberman and Sam Roberts are cool guys!
    Times is Episcopalian… before that just scared.

    Love, Neal

  • Joseph Abramson
    • SLG

      A bit of hypocrisy on the part of the NYT. So basically the Times says it`s ok to create allowances for Muslim women here in Toronto but wrong for Jewish women in NYC to ask the same? What about this guy who can’t watch his kid swim?
      The outrage over restricting pools reminds me of a great Groucho Marx line when he saw a pool sign that said No Jews Allowed. “My daughter’s only half-Jewish can she go in up to her knees?”

  • Joseph Fine

    Perhaps the Times will support a future accommodation for Muslim women bathers. (If not for Jewish women bathers.)

    If not, there might be a future accommodation for transgender bathers, if not for men or women bathers.

    Perhaps, transgender bathers would not be as smelly as the men or the women.



  • Alan M. Dershowitz said:

    “We need a new term to describe this phenomenon, this double-standard, this super-scrutiny of things Jewish, this singling out of Israel.”

    SOURCE: Chutzpah by Alan M. Dershowitz (chapter 4, page 119) published in year 1991 by Little Brown and Company ISBN: 9780316181372 ISBN: 0316181374

  • Eliyahu

    A reasonable and fair policy for public swimming pools would offer single-sex hours for both men and women. There are people of numerous religions who disapprove of mixed swimming and are effectively denied the use of the pools they’re supporting with their taxes. Scheduling should reflect the needs of the local communities patronizing the pools, and it’s really not reasonable to insist that every pool must be open to everyone all the time when that would have the effect of preventing part of the community from enjoying them. (And frankly, men-only hours would also let those of us who are past our prime relax and enjoy swimming without having to hold our belly in for an hour at a time.)

  • Yoel Larry

    There’s a special place in hell for those at the NYTimes and that includes
    All the soul-dead Jews who continue to subscribe to that anti-Semitic trash.

  • Alexander

    I didn’t read the article, and if it singles out Jews, I consider it appaling.
    I did see an article criticizing the opening of the swimming pool only to women, but it was commenting the Muslim women… not Jewish…
    As far as I know, it covers all the religions, not only Jewish…
    So, according to ME, the “smelly” comment was directed to the encroachment of religion over civic law… and not against Jews per se.
    Maybe I am wrong… I didn’t read the article…

  • The stench emanates from the feet in the mouthes of the NY Times editorial board. Really poor choice of words.

  • Yaakov

    It is always marvelous when we can be tolerant of diversity and accommodate people’s needs in various ways.

    But the comment about the taxes paid by religious Jews goes too far. Are we to understand that people who pay taxes should have more influence than poor people who may not have any taxes to pay? Everyone’s needs should be equally considered, rich or poor, tax-payer or non-tax-payer.