Jews Against the Internet

Either the Smartphone Goes or I Go, Rabbi Tells Followers

Some ultra-Orthodox Jews took that anti-Internet rally very seriously.
kiryas joel Either the Smartphone Goes or I Go, Rabbi Tells Followers

Kiryas Joel. (Photo: Daniel Case via Wikipedia)

It’s come to this: your iPhone or your rabbi. At least one New York rabbi has laid down an ultimatum after rabbis at a massive rally of ultra-Orthodox Jews banned the Internet. The Yeshiva World is reporting that a rabbi in Kiryas Joel, a Jewish town of 5,000 21,000 in Orange County, has told his followers that they must throw out their smartphones within a month or find a new rabbi.

Previously, the chassidim of Kiryas Joel were forbidden from having computers in their homes and told the Internet could only be used for work and with a Jewish filtering software. Still, Betabeat spotted dozens of Internet-enabled phones at the rally—and even more on the subway home.

“The rebbe called on directors of mosdos Satmar worldwide to begin enforcing this in four weeks, permitting chassidim an interim period to readjust their lives and acquire an acceptable phone,” writes The Yeshiva World. Anyone who is “klei kodesh,” or holds a religious position, will be fired. Women have no excuse to use the Internet, the rabbi added.

Kiryas Joel is an impoverished Satmar community, following the anti-Zionist Hasidic tradition that is also practiced in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Based on the backlash from web-loving Haredi (and the amount of traffic Betabeat saw from Haredi websites) we’re guessing some will pick the new rabbi. Actually, there’s an app for that.

Follow Adrianne Jeffries on Twitter or via RSS. ajeffries@observer.com