Kosher Smart Phone Arrives as Ultra-Orthodox Tech Taboo Shifts

Israeli Rabbis Approve Phones That Don't Surf Web or Call

Not Too Smart: New rabbi-approved ‘kosher’ phones are being marketed to ultra-Orthodox Israelis. They are like their high-tech treyf cousins, but disabled to avoid the internet or even phone calls.
getty images
Not Too Smart: New rabbi-approved ‘kosher’ phones are being marketed to ultra-Orthodox Israelis. They are like their high-tech treyf cousins, but disabled to avoid the internet or even phone calls.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published September 18, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

The committee operates under a group of Haredi rabbis that includes Ashkenazi leaders like Aharon Leib Shteinman and Shmuel Wosner, as well as the revered Sephardi cleric Ovadia Yosef. And even with that supervision the “Mugan” is $2 cheaper than the more basic Rami Levy phone.

A spokesman for the Rabbinic Committee, Rafael Meir, was disparaging of Rami Levy’s phone during a conversation with the Forward, saying that it has “no kashrut”: “Even if they bring a rabbi [giving approval], it needs to be approved by the Committee, not a rabbi from the fringes.”

Haredi rabbis argue that they haven’t capitulated to the technology they previously shunned. Baruch Shapira, a rabbi who was close to the late Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the most respected Ashkenazi Haredi rabbi of recent years, said that he regards the launch of new kosher phones as a tool in the battle against the mainstream smart phone.

Shapira — who regards only the “Mugan” as kosher — said that its launch will weaken the attraction of iPhones and the like, by offering a kosher alternative to these “totally prohibited” devices.

But while Shapira presented these modified smart phones as an example of rabbis innovating to shape their community, researcher Amiram Golan sees it differently.

Golan, academic head of the new Center for the Study of Ultra-Orthodox Society at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, said that he thinks that the general Haredi public has pushed the rabbinic leadership to accept smart phones by failing to fully observe their ban. He said of the rabbis: “They are very practical. They know that you cannot have curbing rules on a public that cannot withstand them. And more and more people close to the rabbis understand this situation.”

Contact Nathan Jeffay at jeffay@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.