Ultra-Orthodox Jews are about to confront a first-time problem for the faithful in America: The image of a woman, not yet chosen, on the $10 bill. The sect prohibits showing or looking at female images .
The issue arose in a local newspaper in a Haredi [ultra-Orthodox] community in upstate New York, spotted by the blog Failed Messiah.com.
"How are they going to handle this one?" a letter writer wrote to the Haredi newspaper Country Vues (which, incidentally, doesn't carry a single photo of woman). "While we were all wondering how the newspapers will handle it if ... Hillary Clinton was elected president and they will not be able to print [her] picture ... A new, more immediate problem has come up. What is the 'frum' [devout] world going to do with the new $10 bill once a woman is on the bill? Can they carry the picture or bring it into their house?"
An editor at the paper responds: "There are two sides to every argument and that is why there are two sides to every dollar bill. I guess from here onward, when counting bills we'll keep them all upside down."
Ultra Orthodox newspapers often black-out or pixilate female leaders' faces. The Yiddish-language paper Di Tzeitung even erased former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton from a photo showing the White House situation room after Osama bin Laden's capture in 2011.
Di Tzeitung later apologised and told the Washington Post that its eradication of women from its newspaper in "no way relegates them to a lower status" and that the paper is simply prohibited from publishing the photos because of "laws of modesty."
In fact, modesty laws are open to interpretation. While some sects might disagree, most Ultra-Orthodox Jews likely won't have a problem with the new American bills. That's been the case in other nations that have long featured women on money, such as in Israel where Golda Meir used to be on the now defunct 10,000 shekel note.
"The policy that some Haredi papers have in place regarding publishing photographs of women is just that: a company's policy," Avi Shafran, a Haredi rabbi spokesman for Agudath Israel organisation, told the Daily Beast. "There is no prohibition in Jewish religious law against depicting a woman's face; and, certainly, not on using a product or currency that depicts a woman."
It remains to be seen what "company policy" will stand in upstate New York concerning the new bills.