WhatsApp Spreads Fast Among Ultra-Orthodox — and Rabbis Cry Foul

Is Popular Free Messaging Service Kosher?

Kosher Message? Ultra-Orthodox rabbis pack Shea Stadium to condemn the internet in June 2012. With Hasidim flocking to WhatsApp, will the free messaging service be their next target?
josh nathan-kazis
Kosher Message? Ultra-Orthodox rabbis pack Shea Stadium to condemn the internet in June 2012. With Hasidim flocking to WhatsApp, will the free messaging service be their next target?

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published February 06, 2014, issue of February 14, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 4)

Some were critical of the potential ban. Schmeltzer said that banning WhatsApp is part of a losing strategy. “It’s like banning a shopping center and then feeling the need to ban particularly aisle nine,” he said. “We’re in the shopping center, we see it didn’t work, but at least in aisle nine….”

In fact, it’s not clear how closely any of the Hasidic community’s Internet bans are followed, even by apparently pious community members.

The Williamsburg Hasidic community member said that some Hasidic men have started carrying two cell phones since the anti-Internet rally at CitiField in 2012: one filtered phone to show to administrators at the Satmar schools, who require that phones be filtered, and another without a filter. Another Hasidic man, the member of the Satmar community, said that he has a flip phone with no data capabilities to show in public plus an unfiltered smartphone.

Both of these men said that they had Internet-enabled computers in their homes despite communal bans. The Satmar man said that at home in front of his children he referred to his home computer as a “Mac” rather than as a “computer” so that it wouldn’t cause a problem if the children discuss it at school. The teachers at the Satmar school, he said, are the most sheltered adults in the community.

“Nobody in the school system knows what a Mac is,” he said. “They’ll ask my child if their father has a computer at home. They say no.”

Additional reporting by Frimet Goldberger.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kais at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter, @joshnathankazis


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!
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “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!
  • 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.