Sunday, November 28, 2010

Circumcising the Internet?

I had to smile at a report from Israel about the lengths to which an Orthodox Jewish Internet service provider will go to filter out un-Orthodox content for its subscribers. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

But is it kosher?

That is the question facing many ultra-Orthodox Jews as they move online and are greeted by a fast-growing industry seeking to cater to their special needs.

There's Koogle, a Google-inspired searchable directory of kosher businesses offering, say, bargains on 'modest' wedding dresses. Many rabbis frown on YouTube, so Yideotube offers a 'daily online source of carefully screened videos', ranging from spoofs of anti-war activists to tips for buying a ceremonial kittel robe.

Worried about violating prohibitions against working on the Sabbath? Software vendor SaturdayGuard sells technology that enables websites to block access for users, depending upon their time zone, between Friday and Saturday night.

There's even an online support group,, specialising in helping Orthodox Jews break 'lust addictions' arising from internet access. The group offers tips for curtailing inappropriate surfing, including using software that automatically sends lists of visited websites to your spouse or rabbi.

. . .

Already, frustrated Haredi youth are asking websites such as, "How Do I Get Around Kosher Net?"

Access to the internet has also exposed Haredim, who traditionally have taken their direction only from rabbis, to alternate opinions.

"It's also about control," said one ultra-Orthodox internet worker who did not want to be identified as criticising rabbis.

There's more at the link.

Is it kosher, indeed? I can only suggest restricting ultra-Orthodox Internet access to hard-wired systems. That will allow them to sign a covenant, rather than a contract, with their Internet service provider. They can seal the deal by snipping a bit off the end of the Ethernet cable!


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