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Hasidic Leaders Fight 'Culturally Insensitive' Passover 'Spider-Man' Shoot

By Meredith Hoffman | March 14, 2013 7:10am

WILLIAMSBURG — Spider-Man may scale skyscrapers for the greater good, but some city dwellers want the superhero off their streets — at least during a sacred season.

A "culturally insensitive" plan to close off blocks during Passover to shoot "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" would create a parking nightmare in South Williamsburg, Hasidic Jewish leaders said. 

"Now is the busiest time of year, when not only are the families home, but everybody's having guests," said community leader Rabbi Moishe Indig of the holiday. "It's already congested, and there's so much parking in need. It's not fair to take away so much space." 

Columbia Pictures, which is filming the "Spider-Man" sequel at the Marcy Avenue Armory, plans to close off parking on the surrounding streets from March 22-27, company representatives said. 

But with Passover beginning March 25, Hasidic residents said the production company should at least rearrange its schedule out of respect.

"It's a particularly sensitive time, because people can't move their cars...People don't drive during that time," said local resident and attorney Martin Needelman of religious tenets prohibiting driving during the observance of Passover. "It's a major parking problem."

And Williamsburg Community Board 1 member Simon Weiser said he "would just love if they move up [the shooting] a few days."

Kat Donohue, a representative from Columbia Pictures who attended Williamsburg's Community Board 1 meeting this week, said the production company already received permission to use the streets surrounding the armory.

But the following day, a spokeswoman from the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment said that official permits had not yet been granted.

"The production is in communication with our office and the community to determine the parking plan," spokeswoman Marybeth Ihle said.

And a public relations representative from Columbia Pictures, who declined to comment on the exact street closure dates, said the company was working "to minimize any impact on the neighborhood."

"We're doing our best to be good neighbors," said the representative, Julie Kuehndorf.

But Gary Schlesinger, chairman of nonprofit UJ Cares, said that if the city moves forward with granting the permits, it would fly in the face of local residents' needs.

"When they schedule films like this, they should look at the calendar," he said. "If it falls on a holiday such as Passover, it's not culturally sensitive to book a film and to close down parking that week, when everybody is staying home and enjoying their families."