Jewish women living in north London have received a letter from an ultra-orthodox Jewish rabbi telling them it is a "sin" to wear skirts which show their knees or wear the colour red. The letter, written by Gateshead-based Rabbi Eliyahu Falk in Yiddish, Hebrew and English, was sent to 5,000 homes in and around the Stamford Hill area of London.
The letter warns women to adhere to four key points of dress and to choose "calm colours" not reds or yellows. It also states that Jewish women should cover their knees and wear fabric loose enough to cover the outline of a their hips.
The edict was also published in The Heimishe Newsheet, a local newsletter and tells females that "hot colours solicit attention".
The letter reads: "The length of a skirt must extend until at least 4" (10 cm) below the end of the knee. This is required because only with this additional length is one assured that the knees will remain covered even when running, sitting down, climbing stairs etc.
"The width of the blouse or other top garment should be so that the shape of [the] upper body is not apparent. The width of the skirt must be such that the hips and thighs are hidden and camouflaged by skirt.
"The clothes should not have an unusual style as they would be eye-catching. The clothes should not have any unusual style as they would be eye-catching. Similarly the clothes must not be red, a bright yellow or fluorescent colour which are very eye-catching. Instead calm colours should be worn."
Stamford Hill is believed to be home to around 30,000 Hasidic Jews, the largest concentration of the Orthodox Jewish community in Europe. In May 2015, it was reported that the leaders of a North London Hasidic Jewish sect were attempting to ban women from driving.
Dina Brawer, of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, told The Independent: "Modesty is indeed a very important Jewish value which applies equally to both women and men. It is about a mindset that values dignity and discretion.
"Tasteful clothing is only one manifestation of this value. Obsessing over women's hemlines paradoxically undermines this value and smacks of male control."
But Rabbi Abraham Pinter defended Rabbi Falk when speaking to the Jewish Chronicle. He said: "I don't know what the big fuss is about. Women who dress in that way are looking for guidance, and he is just stating what the halachah (Jewish law) is.