Ultra-Orthodox Internet Company Meshimir Blocks WhatsApp Messaging

Satmar-Tied Web Filter Targets Popular Service

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 10, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

An ultra-Orthodox web filtering company will begin blocking photos and videos sent via WhatsApp as of February 11.

The smart phone message service, which is wildly popular among ultra-Orthodox Jews, has grown increasingly controversial in recent weeks, with rabbis and community newspapers condemning it in public. Now, key features of WhatsApp will no longer be available to some members of the ultra-Orthodox community.

Meshimir, a filtering company linked to the Satmar Hasidic group, announced in an email on February 9 that filtered phones will block WhatsApp from sending audio, video, and photos. The Forward reported on February 6 that the company was preparing the change.

“As you surely know, our filtering policies are tailored to meet the standards that our customer-base strive to achieve, and is updated from time-to-time according to the rabbinical guidance received,” the company wrote in an email to subscribers. “The latest change was instituted in accordance with that policy.”

Meshimir did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s unclear how Meshimir will block the photos and videos. Their smart phone filtering service, which costs $12.99 a month, must be installed by hand by Meshimir technicians. The company’s website doesn’t say how the service functions, though it’s possible that the technicians “jailbreak” the iPhones of subscribers.

Meanwhile, ultra-Orthodox WhatsApp users are circulating jokes about the new restrictions. One viral joke, which parodies the Meshimir email, posits a new Meshimir filter to block thoughts.

“Our next Generation of blocking and filtering has gone beyond the reach of mobile smart phones,” the viral joke reads. “Our new platform will tap into our users brains and will respond with precision in the event of a bad Thought, sight vision, and even bad gossip. Users will be put into an immediate coma upon detection of an impending penetration of a bad thought.”


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!
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • 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.