No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Up there amid all the sports stars, movie actors and underwear models, those are the faces of Jewish Orthodox feminists gazing down at you from a billboard in Times Square on Wednesday.
For one day only, the countenances of five individuals who have advanced the cause of Orthodox feminism will be flashed on a screen above the entrance to the W hotel on the southwest corner of 47th St. and Broadway. The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance is behind the spectacle.
“JOFA is proud to be able to mark the important achievements of Orthodox feminism in this quintessentially New York way,” said JOFA executive director Elana Maryles Sztokman. “If you’ve made it to Times Square, you know that you’re doing something important.”
Timing will be key to seeing the billboard, as it will flash only once per hour at exactly 20 minutes past the hour on November 13. JOFA supporters will convene near the TKTS steps in Times Square at noon to look up at the billboard en masse and celebrate the achievements of the figures portrayed.
There’s a particular sort of dread that accompanies a holiday you don’t enjoy. Every year it looms on the calendar, slowly but steadily coming closer, while you try to ignore it. Every year the pressure builds and arrangements must be made — or you risk being plan-less on that most momentous of nights.
You guess it: I’m talking about New Year’s Eve.
I’ve hated it since I was old enough to stay up until midnight watching on TV as people crowded into Times Square. Still, I went along with it; what choice did I have? I made lists of resolutions that I never followed. I worried about what to wear to parties. I stayed up and watched the ball drop on TV, even when I lived within a quick subway ride of Times Square. (I even went to Times Square once, but I was 18, if that counts as an excuse.)
Then one year it hit me. The fact that this day felt meaningless — that nothing ever seemed any different on January 1 than it had on December 31; that Champagne is one of the few alcoholic beverages I can’t stand; that I’m irrationally angered by year-end best-of lists — it all made sense. It was simply that January is not the start of my year.