Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Williamsburg’s Hasidic Pool Wars Heating Up Again Before Summer

It’s spring in Williamsburg and that means one thing: Hasidic groups and New York City are gearing up for another fight over single-sex swimming hours at public pools.

The city originally granted the single-sex swimming hours at two area pools as an accommodation to the area’s Hasidic women, whose code of modesty precludes them from swimming with men. But it slashed the women’s-only times from four hours to two a week last fall, after the city’s Human Rights Commission expressed concerns that the policy might violate gender anti-discrimination protections.

A group of elected officials is demanding a return to the original hours in a letter to city parks commissioner Mitchell Silver.

“We don’t want to take anything from anyone. The pool is empty on those days they took away from us,” Esther Weiss told DNAInfo this week. “It’s anti-Semitic, it’s anti-women.”

But Donna Lieberman, head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, whose organization opposes gender-specific swimming hours, struck a different chord when speaking on the issue last fall.

“People have every right to go swimming in a gender-segregated environment pursuant to their religious beliefs,” she said. “But not on the taxpayer dime.”

Contact Daniel J. Solomon at or on Twitter @DanielJSolomon




Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to Foward. Have questions? Please email us at

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.