Thursday, May 12, 2016

Shhh: Haredim Use Internet as Much as Other Israelis

Ultra-Orthodox Jews go online to gossip, share views and let down their hair, but usually under fake names, a recent study shows.

Their rabbis don’t like it, but ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel surf the internet like mad, a recent study shows. Some use their home computers, but since Haredi schools prohibit internet connections in the households of their students – and most ultra-Orthodox families have children – the average Haredi accesses the web using a mobile device.

Of Israel’s population of nearly 8.5 million, 74 percent are Jews, 20.8 percent are Arab and 5.2 percent are “other.”

Haredim account for around 750,000 of Israel’s total Jewish population of 6.37 million. It’s the fastest-growing Jewish subgroup, increasing by about 5 percent a year, compared to 1.7 percent for the Jewish population as a whole.

While ultra-Orthodox Jews surf the internet a lot, they don’t do it openly, the study done at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev shows – and a lot of their attention span is given to hiding their own identity while trying to guess who other surfers from their community might be.

Internet had been broadly prohibited in the ultra-Orthodox world because of the potential for distraction from the holy life. But solutions like “kosher” smartphones were clearly unable to keep pace with innovation and the rabbis have all but given up on outright bans.

The upshot has been the proliferation of sites and content for the Haredi surfer, which is now acknowledged not only to exist, but to be very active. The Ben-Gurion University study, which set out to characterize the Haredi surfer, shows that Israel’s ultra-Orthodox are online as much as their less religiously observant peers. [...]

The conclusion is that the rabbis may have fought the internet revolution tooth and nail but it’s changing the way young ultra-Orthodox people live and opening them not only to new employment opportunities, but to new thoughts.


  1. It is not true that all charedi schools prohibit internet connections at home - in my experience, must simply require a proper filter. And mobile devices are certainly more strictly prohibited than home internet - although possibly easier to hide.

  2. Is TV still taboo in Hareidi world?

  3. Reminds me of all the homes I was in where the television was kept in a special bookshelf that could be closed with decorative doors in case the Rav came over.

  4. I suspect that what the study really found is that chareidim who use the internet use it more than their secular counterparts, not that the entire chareidi populace uses it more than the secular sector, which, on the face of it, would be blatant nonsense.

  5. It's that device you got rid of the day you got your high speed internet connection.

  6. In my circles no one has a tv or probably saw in recent history - except at appliance stores or restaurants.

    In short those I know who have Interent connections did not have a tv to get rid of

  7. Nice urban legend. I don't know too many rabbonim who make it a point to visit their congregants' homes.

  8. Then you are sadly unfamiliar with some of the insanity engaged in by Yeshivos you'd like your kids to attend.

  9. Sorry I never encountered that insanity with any of my kids' yeshivos. And most people with TVs would keep them in the bedroom anyways, not secret bookcases. I think that you've been watching too many spy movies.

  10. appliance stores in heimishe areas ion new york do not (visibly) carry TVs. (besides, its a particularly low margin item, not worth their time to carry.)

    as for restaurants, you are undoubtedly referring to sports bars, and / or restaurants showing (what you call) football / soccer games. watching those games definitely are forbidden deoraisa.


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