WhatsApp destroying Jewish homes? Rabbis call for "ghetto media" ban
Ultra-orthodox Jewish leaders have launched a crusade against the smartphone messaging service WhatsApp, saying it is the number one threat to Jewish homes, Israel’s daily Haaretz reported on Monday.
WhatsApp grew in popularity among Orthodox Jews following a 2012 campaign that tightened communal restrictions on social networking websites like Facebook, according to a report by The Forward. Today, Jewish leader are saying that a crackdown on WhatsApp is necessary because it is destroying Jewish homes.
“The rabbis overseeing divorces say WhatsApp is the No. 1 cause of destruction of Jewish homes and business,” according to the Der Blatt, a newspaper published by members of Satmar Hasidic Orthodox group .
Meshimer Filter, a web filtering company linked to the ultra-Orthodox Satmar Hasidic group, said on Sunday that filtered phones will block WhatsApp from sending multimedia messages, including audio, video and photos, according to forward.com.
About 40, 000 ultra-orthodox Jewish men rallied in New York’s Citi Field on May 20, 2012 against the internet, especially its unfettered use.
Rabbis demanded Orthodox Jews to use Web filters on all computers and discouraged the use of social networking websites.
Children whose parents do not have web filters on their computers are not allowed into Satmar Hasidic schools, according to The Forward.
Followers of ultra-orthodox groups have used WhatsApp as a tool to circumvent the tight social media rules issued by their leaders.
“It’s self-created media, it’s not the outside media,” one Hasidic Jew in Brooklyn told the Forward “[It’s] an inside ghetto media, not outside.”
“I know that the askanim [local organizers] are very concerned about this,” Joseph Oppenheim, a member of the Satmar Hasidic community, told The Forward.
“It’s not something they can control,” said one member of the Hasidic community who lives in Williamsburg. “Anything they can’t be in control of makes them nervous.”