February 21, 2014
WhatsApp, Scourge of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Communities

Very religious communities tend to have a fraught relationship with technology. The Amish’s eschewal of electrical power and cars is merely shorthand for the conflicts and compromises that arise when new human things test the oldest human things. 
And so it is written in the The Jewish Daily Forward that WhatsApp is the latest scourge among ultra-orthodox Jews, picking up on a story in Der Blatt, a Yiddish-language newspaper with the headline, “The rabbis overseeing divorces say WhatsApp is the No. 1 cause of destruction of Jewish homes and business.”
Even before Facebook bought the company for $19 billion, the Satmar Hasids of New York were struggling to come to terms with what WhatsApp is. Is it a messaging service, which might be allowed within the community norms of technological adoption, or is it something more forbidden, like Facebook itself?
A June 2012 ban on Facebook and other social-media sites by community leaders drew attention to the various attitudes that orthodox Jews have toward Internet use. Some clearly support the bans, and Satmar Hasidic schools “require that parents use Web filters on their smartphones.” But others find ways around the restrictions, according to the Forward. This latter group argues that WhatsApp does not have the deleterious social features that other social tools do. 
"It’s self-created media, it’s not the outside media,” one member of the community told the newspaper. “[It’s] an inside ghetto media, not outside.”
Read more. [Image:  flickr/Bonnie Natko ]

WhatsApp, Scourge of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Communities

Very religious communities tend to have a fraught relationship with technology. The Amish’s eschewal of electrical power and cars is merely shorthand for the conflicts and compromises that arise when new human things test the oldest human things. 

And so it is written in the The Jewish Daily Forward that WhatsApp is the latest scourge among ultra-orthodox Jews, picking up on a story in Der Blatt, a Yiddish-language newspaper with the headline, “The rabbis overseeing divorces say WhatsApp is the No. 1 cause of destruction of Jewish homes and business.”

Even before Facebook bought the company for $19 billion, the Satmar Hasids of New York were struggling to come to terms with what WhatsApp is. Is it a messaging service, which might be allowed within the community norms of technological adoption, or is it something more forbidden, like Facebook itself?

A June 2012 ban on Facebook and other social-media sites by community leaders drew attention to the various attitudes that orthodox Jews have toward Internet use. Some clearly support the bans, and Satmar Hasidic schools “require that parents use Web filters on their smartphones.” But others find ways around the restrictions, according to the Forward. This latter group argues that WhatsApp does not have the deleterious social features that other social tools do. 

"It’s self-created media, it’s not the outside media,” one member of the community told the newspaper. “[It’s] an inside ghetto media, not outside.”

Read more. [Image: flickr/Bonnie Natko ]

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