Last month, a Brooklyn yeshiva banned Woody Allen-style glasses for being "too goyish" and too "modern." Bobover Yeshiva B’Nei Zion, located in Boro Park, these types of glasses give students a "vulgar" appearance. Thanks to Raghav Krishnapriyan, we have a translation of the original letter posted at Bobov 48. Read it in full below.
It's a well-known midrash that the virtue that guided the People of Israel in Egypt was that they "did not change their names, languages, or clothes," and the same strength guides us going forward and supports us in Exile in every generation. Seeing as recently some students have taken advantage of a loophole in the matter of clothing, and in order to make sure this was not intentional, we feel it is important to sound the alarm that our students should behave entirely in accordance with tradition, as a Hasidic student should.
It's really very difficult to set forth a clear rule as to what kind of glasses a student should wear because these things continuously change, and glasses that were once wholesome can today be considered "modern," and vice versa. But the clear rule that we can certainly set forth is that one must stand up now and not follow any new fashions. Therefore today we have set forth the following clear instructions:
It has recently become the fashion for glasses to be entirely black outside and inside (with the false justification that this makes them stronger). Per the legal rule "according to the majority," everyone knows that this type of glasses gives a child a completely vulgar appearance. We certainly need not judge each child to see whether he indeed makes such a vulgar impression. (If one must judge, it's a clear sign that it's not appropriate for one of our students.) Therefore in general we will not allow these thick black glasses in the yeshiva.
The same goes for the type of glasses that have a dark blue or dark brown color all round. Students in our yeshiva, no matter what age, may not come to the yeshiva with these glasses.
We recommend buying only plain glasses that are entirely light colored, with flat, thin temples.
The new kind of glasses, with mixed, showy colors and with various "designs" or unrefined inscriptions, etc. are not acceptable for a student in our yeshiva. (Please keep in mind that even if these glasses were allowed (?) for very young students, people don't buy themselves glasses that often and if you get used to buying these sorts of glasses for your child when they're young, they wouldn't change them very quickly when they get older.)
We depend on the parents to pay attention to what the students are wearing and not to depend on the businesspeople who say this is what people go around wearing these days, nor on the children who say that this is what all their friends are doing, but rather to seek those things that give a student the appearance of being a Hasidic student.
We request from the parents, that those who have already bought these kinds of glasses, which are not in accordance with our spirit, exchange them for the previous kind. The result of this would be a wonderful education for the child in these our times, to see that we will not ape modern and vulgar "styles."
Through these merits we will help God to see the delight of divinity in our children so that they can grow up to be upright, noble Hasidic children, fearers of God and brilliant scholars for the delight and joy of their dear parents and teachers who will live for good days and years.
But it isn't just vulgar modernism—considering that two Satmar grand rabbis — Aaron and Zalman Teitelbaum — have been wearing "hipster glasses" for the past 35 years. “What one kid does, another will copy. The school doesn’t want a domino effect,” Nafle Frank told the Post. “Style is not a sin, but the culture is to stay away from new things and to keep them the way they were.”
Perhaps the rabbis are upset by people confusing Hasids for hipsters: there are Tumblrs and Twitter accounts dedicated to the similarities, n+1 had a long article about the communities mingling, and even Jimmy Kimmel has had segments on it.