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Ultra-Orthodox Jews v. the internet

Thursday, 17 May 2012
by Mano Singham

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have organized a big rally in New York city this coming Sunday, featuring leading rabbis as speakers, to warn about the dangers of the internet and as part of their ongoing war “Against the Scourge of Technology”. Publicity for the event says:

It is well known that in recent times through the Internet many serious family-related problems have been created, and it all happens because of it, and something must be done so they won’t be hurt. And since this touches almost everyone, we must assemble together to protect and be protected, and we hope that through this gathering in search of ideas we will be helped from Heaven to save the many, and may it be that we will be successful in encouraging the public not to stumble over this obstacle, and the Lord will guide us in a truthful path. And note that sometimes the suspension of Torah is the very way in which it must be kept.

I am not sure what this business about the ‘suspension of the Torah’ is about. No doubt having such a rally is breaking one or more of the seemingly infinite number of prohibitions that Judaism decrees.

This event is not a surprise since religious people tend to view the free flow of information, especially about sex, with alarm. Also not surprising is that women are not allowed to attend. But not to worry! The Wall Street Journal reports that “A live video-feed will be streamed to six locations around the metropolitan area for women to watch.” So that’s ok, no discrimination at all here, so women should stop whining about being excluded. If they insist on going, they can try the strategy shown in The Life of Brian when women were excluded from other fun religious events like the stoning of blasphemers.

What is surprising is that the event to be held in a 42,000-seat stadium is supposedly sold out. The reason may not be due entirely to wild enthusiasm. Reports suggest that male students in some Jewish schools were being pressured to buy tickets for themselves and their fathers.

The antipathy towards the internet seems pretty strong. Apparently some Jewish schools require the signing of contracts forbidding children from having internet access in their homes.

Nice going, Ultra-Orthodox Jews! Like the Catholic Church, you seem to be going out of your way to reject modernity and alienate women and young people. That is undoubtedly an excellent strategy to grow your community in the 21st century.