Friday, May 26, 2006

Ultra-Orthodox Jews Surf "Forbidden" Internet

Surfing the "forbidden Internet world," young ultra-Orthodox Jews, or Haredi, are increasingly breaking through their tightly sealed society into the world, defying long-timed traditions considering the "outside culture" and the Internet as a threat to their way of life.

"They are curious, they want to know more about the outside world. Their world can be very lonely sometimes, and here they find refuge," Michael Krumer, the owner of the Strudel Internet café, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) Friday, May 26.

Most of his clients are ultra-Orthodox youngsters who use the Internet for e-mailing and surfing news sites.

Many also visit dozens of ultra-Orthodox chat rooms where they can exchange thoughts on issues such as the Bible, community gossip or any other topic.

Throughout history, Ultra-Orthodox Jews have been living in closed and self-contained communities.

They have persistently resisted outside influence in an effort to preserve their radically conservative traditions, according to AFP.

"Building Walls"

Many Yeshiva (religious schools) rabbis have repeatedly warned their followers of the "destructive influence" of the "outside culture" and especially the Internet, fearing they will corrupt the purity of their lives.

"Instead of dedicating their attention to Torah studies, our children are being exposed to the Internet," said rabbi Shmuel Haim Papenheim, the editor of an ultra-Orthodox magazine.

Jewish sages have ruled that the Internet should not be let into homes unless a rabbi grants special authorization.

Papenheim said that the Internet, more than television and radio, poses a real threat to the austere and pure way of life of ultra-Orthodox children.

"We must guard our children. The young generation is completely exposed and we must build walls around them because the other side is constantly trying to harm them."

Many Internet cafes have received threats to close from the so-called "modesty patrols" -- groups of ultra-Orthodox men who police their neighborhoods to guard the community against immodesty and vice.

Some cafe owners were even forced to shut down.

Two weeks ago, one cafe was gutted by what police suspect was a group of ultra-Orthodox arsonists.

"The patrols said they have cameras which take pictures of anyone entering and that the pictures will be hung on street walls," said Eli, a 18-year-old Yeshiva student.

"Students can be kicked out of their Yeshiva and might have problems in their matchmaking," he added.


However, Eli and other Ultra-Orthodox youngsters defy the threats as well as the rabbis' edicts.

They no longer see the Internet as threat to their way of life.

"I think my parents know I come here, but not all parents know. They don't like it because they think their children can be tempted and fail," said an 18-year-old Yeshiva student.

"But that is wrong. I believe and like my way of living. This won't corrupt me."

Yitzhak, 20, said he comes to the Internet café "every now and then".

"I watch the news and some DVD films and just check what's happening in the world."

He said he will bring a computer into his home once he get married.

"The Haredi are also developing and bringing into their homes things the secular people have. The Internet is slowly becoming legitimate," he stressed.


You have you get your cites from a ISLAMIC website?
for a JEWISH blog?


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