Friday, August 04, 2017
Several hundred Hasidic men protested Friday outside Ping Cellular, saying the store, owned and managed by Orthodox Jews, is selling smart phones to young Hasidic men, whose rabbis prohibit phones that can connect to the Internet.
Protesters, including members of the anti-Israel groups Torah Jewry and Neturei Karta, said the store's management is defying rabbinical orders and has been spoken to about selling the phones to younger members of the religious community.
Some ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbis have ordered a ban on the Internet for their followers on the grounds that exposure to the secular world leads to moral corruption, sexual promiscuity, and infidelity. The Internet also provides news that the community leaders can't censor.
Basic cell phones without Internet connections are permitted.
"The store pushes young people to buy smartphones when all they want is the basic phone," protester Dov Cohen, of the group Torah Jewry, said. "They are defying the word of the rabbis and the Torah."
Ping Cellular, a Verizon Wireless dealer, is located in the Town Square Mall along Route 59. The strip mall includes the Evergreen Supermarket and other stores that cater the religious community.
Store manager Pinchas Blau said the protesters has the right to raise their voices.
"America is a great democracy that allows freedom of speech, including the freedom to protest peacefully," Blau said. "I embrace this concept and practice as a patriotic American."
Blau said the store agrees the "dangers of unfiltered and unfettered access to the internet, especially for children, is well-documented by researchers and professionals. "
He said they "strongly recommend and refer our customers to a community-based volunteer organization ... which will install filters free of charge."
The protesters held up signs in Hebrew and chanted slogans, as they lined up in the parking lot. A half-dozen Ramapo police officers were at the scene. The officers also spoke with the manager of Ping.
Sgt. Anthony Giardina said the protest remained peaceful, for the most part.
"Some people got a little rowdy," he said.
Emotions got a bit hot when TzaliFortgang unfolded an Israeli flag to protest the protesters opposed to the state of Israel.
"We all agree the Internet can be very dangerous if it's used the wrong way," Fortgang said inside the store. "It can kill a child forever. Next door, they sell bleach and ammonia, which can kill a child if misused."
He said the key is not to ban smartphones but to educate people. He said the police moved him from the scene.
"If they can protest, I can raise the flag of Israel," Fortgand said. "We all have that freedom in America."
Massive community meetings by Hasidic Jewish leaders in New York and Israel during the past few years, attended by thousands, have urged bans against the Internet and smartphones.
In Monsey on Friday, protester Joseph Rosenberg said the pressure would remain until the Ping Cellular owners stop selling smartphones. He said other stores that sell smartphones in Monsey keep the devices under the counter, and don't promote them.
"All the rabbis say we should not use smartphones," Rosenberg said. "We came to tell them. They still try pushing the smartphones. We came to protest against this."
Comments: Post a Comment