Orthodox Jews and the Web

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

NY1 political reporter Josh Robin delves into his series,“Tangled Web,” which looks at how orthodox Jews are dealing with the internet.


Josh Robin

Comments [16]

design your own web from ABC

Ecommerce sites sell products online and offer to their customers these web payment options via PayPal, credit cards, or online banking. And so, their website host must have the capacity to provide not only software to manage the site's contents, but also software that manages the shopping cart system, online payment processing, and customer information security. Without back-end support for these functions, Internet business might find it difficult to handle large numbers of orders every day, especially when the process also requires parallel requests to an international freight service for door-to-door deliveries.

Oct. 14 2012 10:31 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

"we send tax information to our accountant via e-mail"

As geeks, do you encrypt your financial emails?


Aug. 08 2012 01:57 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Eli from Astoria-

What you need is to study Talmud. You will learn, if you do, that the Talmud has relevance to nearly everything, which is why it has been around and studied for so long. It's the Jewish version of Beethoven. Beethoven's symphonies will last forever (or at least as long as the planet survives) because of the universality of the music; the Talmud will likewise be around forever because of the universality of the information it provides.

By the way, as I said earlier, I am Orthodox, but I am also a geek and my husband and I use the computer for everything. Neither of us spends time surfing porn sites, but we send tax information to our accountant via e-mail, we e-file tax returns, we research computer gadgetry, we send photos to out-of-town relatives, etc. We also use text messaging extensively and we receive invitation texts from our very Orthodox friends to various functions, texts addresses and directions, keep in touch with one another during the day or out-of-town trips.

We find technology invaluable and use it within our framework all the time, but we have no need to surf sites that are not of interest to us.

Aug. 08 2012 11:59 AM
tuviah from Uptown

it's sad but not surprising. the ultra observant world sees modernity as threat to religious observance. the internet is just one aspect. this topic plays into a much larger discussion about job skills, out of control tzniut requirements, etc.

Aug. 08 2012 11:51 AM
fuva from harlemworld

(MichaelB, accroding to the guest, an asifa is a gathering for discourse.)

By the way, I saw that NY1 segment with the woman exposing the handling of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community. And, yes, her back was turned, but she could easily be identified in that smallish community by her voice and other features. It kills me how flimsy identity shielding is on these news shows these days. These reporters are giving false security and it's dead wrong.

Aug. 08 2012 11:50 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

eli from astoria, that's an astounding statement.

But I guess you're right, in the same sense that for millions of people, the internet is more relevant than Shakespeare.

And for a junkie, his or her next fix is more "relevant."

But is it uplifting and mind-expanding? Does it enhance our humanity or narrow it?

Aug. 08 2012 11:49 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Fuva

"Asifa" is Hebrew for gathering.

Aug. 08 2012 11:48 AM
eli from astoria

i suspect that for a human being living in the current century "the internet" (or at least a significant portion of it) has a lot more relevance than anything in the talmud. just one man's opinion.

Aug. 08 2012 11:43 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

fuva from harlemworld, what's an "asifa"?

Aug. 08 2012 11:43 AM
fuva from harlemworld

For real, we require a national "asifa" on the apparently very real cognitive effects of these 21 Century technologies. (No luddite.)

Aug. 08 2012 11:40 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Starting in the centuries before Jesus, a segment of the Jewish people cut themselves off "from the world." The most monastic was the Essenes who lived alongside the Dead Sea to await the coming of the Messiah, and were eventually destroyed by the Romans. This insularity of rabbinic Judaism influenced the creation of monasticism among the new Christian religion, as well as the development of Islam along similar lines.

These Jews believed that the world was a seductive place, and that any secular external influences is a threat to both the morality as well as a slide into assimilation and disappearance of the people. And they are not totally incorrect. But it's getting harder all the time to keep the seductive world out, and keep their youth in.

Aug. 08 2012 11:37 AM
John from office

How did I know this would lead to long comments?? People forget that Jews are people too. Same drives and needs.

Aug. 08 2012 11:26 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

I also worked for Hasidic Jews who ran an ecommerce business, and after having allowed full access to the Internet, in which certain staff members would have sports games and TV shows streaming at their desks, the owners shut down all Internet access for everyone at the company.

Part of the problem with the Internet in a Hasidic workplace is that you have very young people working there (18-20 year olds) who, because they couldn't use the Internet at home and didn't have much in the way of impulse-control, went CRAZY at work, and spent a lot of time online; I had an 18 year-old staff member whom I caught streaming old episodes of Charlie's Angels (!!)

On the flip side, the non-Hasidic staff members I worked with, myself included, who needed access to do research related to our jobs, only got certain sites approved one at a time. It was a really ridiculous, and to we non-Hasidic staff members, highly insulting and patriarchal - the assumption that we couldn't "control ourselves."

This goes a lot deeper than the Internet, I'm afraid. The Hasidic community I worked with operated from the standpoint of having 1 person decide the rules and behaviors of an entire community, which breeds a culture of immature people who aren't able to make thoughtful decisions for themselves. Unless Orthodox Jews are given the freedom to be exposed to things, and make measured choices, they're just going to live in a world of extremes.

Aug. 08 2012 11:18 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I am Orthodox, but my approach is as follows: There's an off switch on your computer. You don't want to look, turn it off. Same applies to television.

I do agree that many people take advantage of web service at the office and are not as productive if they are doing personal things on line all day. On the other hand, there are important uses of the web during the work day (i.e., looking up zip codes for shipping, or maps or weather or flight tickets for office travel, ordering office supplies), but for personal use, there should be enough of a work ethic (ha ha ha) for people not to abuse their privileges. If that doesn't exist, there are Human Resources ways to deal with that sort of abuse.

And, again, anyone who is Orthodox does not have to surf sites they consider obscene or inappropriate. But, as there are many Jewish-themed sites, it would be a shame to cut it off entirely and miss out on that, as well as the other educational and commercial advantages. It's like throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Aug. 08 2012 11:12 AM
meemi from brooklyn

i work for orthodox jews. it's very sad, but these guys (in their late 20s) have very antiquated ideas of sex, think that as a non-religious person, I live a life of debauchery and's the hypocrisy - they are very "comfortably settled" with their own online lives that would get them ex-communicated from their boro-park neighborhood. Yes, porn.

Aug. 08 2012 11:06 AM
aggrofoodo from Brooklyn

I work at a Hasidic-owned e-commerce company, where the Internet is almost entirely blocked. That’s right, an e-commerce company where employees cannot access the web.
I can’t argue with walling off time-suckers like Facebook and Youtube in the work environment, but the holy firewall reeks of outdated, blanket thinking. The owner doesn’t want to feel responsible for corruption of his employees, but many use their smart phones here constantly. It’s almost impossible to block out the real world these days, so the religious have no choice but to loosen their grip a little or get left behind.

Aug. 08 2012 10:38 AM

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