As it turns out, Betabeat was too hasty in declaring our attendance at the upcoming ”Jews Against the Internet” rally scheduled for City Field next month. As Rabbi Eliyahu Fink points out at Vos Iz Neias? (Yiddish for “What is news?”), women are not allowed to participate. Tickets are currently on sale for $10. “There’s just one catch. 50% of orthodox Jews cannot attend. The entire Asifa is for men only,” writes the Rabbi, who also blogs at Fink or Swim.
In addition to the general sexism, this dictum is particularly notable because the Israeli rabbis backing the event have blamed the Internet (and the insidious gadgetry that makes it omnipresent) for “family-related problems.” In fact, despite roundly decrying “the scourge of technology,” few other specifics are given.
Says Rabbi Fink:
“If the threat of the Internet is so great, as the Ichud HaKehilos claims, how in the world can they make the marquee event for awareness and education about the Internet exclusively for men?! Are women not susceptible to the harms of the Internet? Should mothers of our children not be educated about the dangers of the Internet?
I honestly cannot fathom how the Ichud HaKehilos can say on the one hand that the Internet is so dangerous and then on the other hand exclude the mothers who are home with their children more than their fathers and the teenage girls who are just as present online as teenage boys. If anything, the girls have more access to computers and Internet than boys in yeshiva!”
Prohibiting women also severely undercuts the event goal of gathering “all the Jews living in the U.S.” for “a mass rally never before seen in the history of Orthodox Jewry,” as one organizer described it.
Rabbi Fink points to an op-ed about the rally earlier this month from Dovid Teitelbaum, director of Camp Sdei Chemed International. Mr. Teitelbaum agrees that a solution besides banning the Internet needs to be addressed in the Orthodox Jewish community. But according to pamphlets promoting the event, the only alternative suggested by the organizers, who have raised $1.5 million to produce the rally, is “filtering.”
“This huge problem certainly needs a huge solution, but I’m terribly afraid we are heading for a huge disappointment. If what I read in the pamphlets is true and our huge solution is filtering, then we have learned nothing from the past.
Filters sound good and make us feel good, but they are completely ineffective. A filter is only as effective as much as the person using it wants to be filtered. And while it’s a great way to stop pop-ups and inappropriate web-pages, it is irrelevant to the issue we are facing.”
You know who might have a better idea about how to deal with technology’s intrusion into the domestic sphere? That half of the population you’re banning from the event.
(Hat tip, @JeffLeb)