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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY > Ultra-Orthodox hold NYC meeting on Internet risks

NEW YORK - The Associated Press

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Ultra-Orthodox Jews who believe that the Internet threatens their way of life fill New York's Citi Field for an unprecedented gathering on how to use modern technology in a religiously appropriate way, Sunday, May 20, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/VosIzNeias.com)

Ultra-Orthodox Jews who believe that the Internet threatens their way of life fill New York's Citi Field for an unprecedented gathering on how to use modern technology in a religiously appropriate way, Sunday, May 20, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/VosIzNeias.com)

Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men attended a rally Sunday at the New York Mets' stadium on the dangers of the Internet and how to use modern technology in a religiously responsible way.

Women were not permitted to attend the meeting at Citi Field in Queens. However, it was broadcast live to audiences of women in schools and event halls in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. The event garnered so much interest that organizers rented the nearby Arthur Ashe Stadium for the overflow crowd.

Eytan Kobre, a lawyer who is the spokesman for the event's organizers, said the rally's purpose was not to ban the Internet but to learn how to harness it.

"There is a very significant downside to the Internet," he said. "It does pose a challenge to us in various aspects of our lives."

He cited online pornography and gambling as well as the risk of social media undermining "our ability to pray uninterruptedly, to focus and to concentrate."

Television is banned or discouraged, but Kobre said many ultra-Orthodox Jews use the Internet either on computers or smartphones. "There's a spectrum of usage and there's a spectrum of how people are dealing with it," he said.

Shlomo Cohen of Toronto told The New York Times that he uses the Internet for shopping, business and staying in touch with friends, but that "desires are out there."

"We have to learn how to control ourselves," Cohen said.

The rally was organized by a rabbinical group called Ichud Hakehillos Letohar Hamachane, which means Union of Communities for the Purity of the Camp. Published reports have put the cost at $1.5 million.

The organizers are leaders of ultra-Orthodox sects that reject many aspects of modern life. Women dress modestly and wear wigs after marriage, while men wear black hats and long beards. Children are educated in Jewish schools, and Yiddish is the first language for many.

A group urging more support for the victims of child sexual abuse inside the close-knit community held a counter-protest outside the stadium.


May/22/2012

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Rimon Tree

5/22/2012 11:06:36 AM

The radicals and orthodox are a real pain in the S all over the world and in every religion! Why don't they just not visit sites they believe to be "sinful"? If the world is so "seducive" and dangerous, a "Holy Man" should be able to fight those seductions! As for the others, they just want to be left to live in peace and doing what they want as long as it does not hurt anybody else! The orthodox are a far bigger problem for Israel than the millions of Arabs around!

Faruk Beisser

5/22/2012 11:05:01 AM

The mentally deranged are at it again! Why don't they team up with Iran concerning the internet? After all, the internet is Satan's work!
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