Synagogue's complaints prompt gym to tint windows, angering athletes
Spandex tops, shorts and other revealing workout wear has driven a rift between YMCA clients and Hasidic Jews in Montreal's Mile End district.
Some members of the Avenue du Parc YMCA are upset with the centre's administrators, who allowed windows on the building's west side to be tinted in order to placate leaders of a Hasidic synagogue across the alley.
The Y members claim the tinted windows compromise the building's interior lighting and make it hard to practise tai chi and yoga.
About 100 of them have signeda petition defending their workoutclothes and demanding the tinted windows be removed.
Members of the Yetev Lev synagogue, on Hutchison Street,paid for tinted windows at the Y after they complained their children and youthwere unwittingly watching too many women in various states of undress work out at the gym.
The congregation's rabbi said public nudity is not acceptable to his members, nor to any religious Jew.
Rabbi Asher Wieder says he doesn't see the request as being unreasonable, given what Y members would normally look on to through the windows.
"Their windowsare basically [on]a lane, where traffic is, during the day, and even at night, trucks, deliveries, garbage removal. So really, there's no view for them," he told CBC Tuesday.
But Y members want the congregation toaccommodate its habits to the community centre, not vice versa. Michelle Pontbrilliant, a Y member for seven years, says she has a hard time believing congregation members can see right into the gym from their study halls in the synagogue.
The problem surfaces when theyoung men wanderinto the alley on their study breaks,she contended in an interview with CBC.
"They smoke, they take a break, five or 10 of them at a time.The windows are not giving onto the windows of the synagogue, as such.I don't think the synagogue even has large windows.
"I'm very surprised that it has to go as far as tinting the windows. I think it's appropriate to find other means, if they want to take a break, they should take it in the front, not in the courtyard, if I can say so.
The Y members who signed the petition said the synagogue should tint its own windows if it wants to shield Hasidic children from activities at the gym.
YMCA manager Serge Saint-AndrÃ© said he will investigate his members' complaints.