New York City commuters taking the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan have had trouble believing their eyes. Last month, the city affixed to one of the bridge’s crossbeams a sign informing motorists that they were leaving the borough of Brooklyn. Following this was a plaintive “Oy Vey!” It’s been a long road for the kvetchy sign. When Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz first proposed the idea to the city’s transportation department in January 2004, he was rebuffed. Too distracting, the department said. But Markowitz persisted, and the city relented.
Early reaction to the sign has been positive. Most of those who’ve weighed in on the matter seem charmed. But not all. A correspondent on the Web site jewschool.com was uncomfortable with so prominent a display of a phrase so “deeply steeped in shtetl-style frailty.” Michael Santomauro, a prolific “Holocaust revisionist” who edits the online newsletter “Reporter’s Notebook,” wrote that the sign represents “the saturation of everything Jewish in our culture…. Your taxpayers at work. The ultimate in obnoxiousness for ethnic politics.” To such critics, we feel like echoing one of other signs that the borough of Brooklyn uses to bid farewell to motorists leaving its borders: Fugheddaboudit.