Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis Urge Women To Limit Internet Use

Address Asifa Crowd of 10,000 Via One-Way Mirror

YouTube

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published May 30, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis sought to enlist ultra-Orthodox women in their push to limit Internet use at a rally in Boro Park, Brooklyn on May 29, saying that women are responsible for controlling web access by their husbands and families.

Speaking to a crowd of 10,000 women, a panel of rabbis warned of the dangers posed by the web, but stopped short of banning smart phones and Internet outright.

Rabbis told anecdotes of mothers ignoring their children while using their phones, drawing gasps from the audience, according to one attendee.

The so-called Technology Asifa, organized by the same group of ultra-Orthodox religious leaders and activists who drew 40,000 men to Citi Field in Queens for an anti-Internet rally in 2012, filled a warehouse belonging to the Bobov Hasidic sect on the outskirts of Boro Park.

The speakers, all of whom were male, addressed the crowd from behind a one-way mirror, according to a report in the Orthodox newspaper Hamodia. The women in the audience could see the men speaking, while the men speaking could only see reflections of themselves.

The proceedings were conducted largely in Yiddish, and Hamodia has not reported on the content of the rabbis’ speeches. No other report on the event is publicly available in English. A short video clip of the event highlights posted on YouTube includes a portion of a speech in Yiddish by Asher Anshel Katz, the Vien rebbe, summarizing the message of the event.

In the clip, Katz says that women’s phones should not have web connections. But he also recognizes that some women need access to the Internet over their phones. “At the same time families must be supported, people must be able to connect with the world to have a job,” Katz said.

Instead of an outright ban, speakers emphasized the power of women to control Internet use by their families, according to one attendee. Some ultra-Orthodox girls’ high schools mandated attendance by 12th graders. Adults attended as well. One rabbi made a PowerPoint presentation. Speakers offered tips to the women, including checking their email before their children wake up in the morning. A pamphlet left on every chair was titled “Let’s Save Ourselves and Our Generation.”

A photo essay on the event on the ultra-Orthodox website Yeshiva World News shows the male rabbis and the women’s empty seats before the event, but includes no images of the female attendees.

Additional reporting by Jordan Kutzik


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!
  • 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?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • 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.