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Jews Against Unfiltered Internet to Face Protesters at Citi Field

“Everybody is aware that in one click, you can be in a very dark space spiritually,” said one local rabbi.

A group of fervently Orthodox Jews reportedly set to gather at Citi Field later this month for a conference on the dangers of the internet will have counter protesters.

The secondary protest is titled “The Internet Is Not The Problem,” and has been organized on, of all places, facebook.

The pro-internet faction hopes to fly in the face of a loose confederation of Ultra Orthodox leaders who have reportedly raised $1.5 million to rent out the inside of the stadium on May 20. They will reportedly use the massive space to rally against and discuss the problems the internet has caused the insular community.

“It is well known that in recent times through the Internet many serious family-related problems have been created, and it all happens because of it, and something must be done so they won’t be hurt,” the group, known as the Great Men of Israel, said in a statement translated by the Jewish Press. “And since this touches almost everyone, we must assemble together to protect and be protected, and we hope that through this gathering in search of ideas we will be helped from Heaven to save the many, and may it be that we will be successful in encouraging the public not to stumble over this obstacle, and the Lord will guide us in a truthful path,” they added.

But not all Jews are sympathetic to the anti-internet cause. Ari Mandel, a secular Jew who was raised as a Hassid before leaving the fold, began the counter protest for outside the stadium, because he feels the attention of the Hassidic leadership ought to be turned elsewhere.

“It’s infuriating that these rabbis are so focused on the Internet, instead of far more serious dangers,” said Mandel, who was thinking specifically of the problem of child molestation—which he says someone close to him has been a victim of.

“In my mind, there is one calamity so serious it trumps any other concern: Jewish leadership needs to totally reform how they keep our children safe,” he added.

To Rabbi Yossi Blesofsky of , the internet can be a serious hazard to children.

“Everybody is aware that in one click, you can be in a very dark space spiritually,” he said, adding, “Whether it’s pornography, or crime…racism, hate, or learning how to make a bomb—that’s how dangerous it is.”

Blesofsky wished to emphasize that he is not an organizer of the Citi Field conference—and may not even attend—but does find some common ground with the organizers, who are of different Orthodox sects.

“It’s about educating our children to understand the power of the internet and the danger of it,” he said, adding, “You can’t say that the internet is evil. That’s silly. That’s sort of immature. The issue is you have to use it in a positive manner.”

Joe Dowd May 20, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I'd like to add my two cents to this argument: I think it's great that SOMEBODY could sell out Citi Field! G-d knows the Mets can't.
Mentsh May 20, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Just a few corrections/clarifications: Many Chasidic Jews live in highly insular communities that neither understand nor care about the outside world. They shelter their children from what happens in golus -- exile -- by denying them a full secular education and cutting themselves off from certain technological developments. This does not mean, however, that these sects completely shun technology. In fact, cellular phone usage is very common among Satmar Jews that populate much of Brooklyn's religious enclaves. The main sources of information in this community, however, remain Yiddish print media such as Der Tog and Der Algemeyner Dzhornal. Certain groups of Chasidic Jews, such as the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, wholly embrace the Internet and use it as a way to teach others about Judaism and encourage secular Jews to perform mitzvos/commandments. Please understand that there are dozens of sects of Chasidic Jews; each has its own minhagim -- customs. Mainstream orthodoxy, i.e. "Modern Orthodox" Jews, do not share the same hard-line views as Chasidic Jews. Most Orthodox Jews live life just like you while following all the Torah's laws.
Mentsh May 20, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Regarding Marque El's comment: I respect you completely but must clear up a few technical points for the other readers (I am also a Conservative Jew): 1. Cheeseburgers and other "khazaray" are not permitted. You may choose to eat them, which is totally your choice, but it is not a part of "Conservative Judaism" in any way. Whether or not the majority of us actually keep kosher, keeping kosher is the law. 2. While you and I might agree that gay marriage should be legal (secular law of our country), Jewish law does not recognize same-sex unions. Most Conservative congregations would happily accept same-sex Jewish members, but there is no marriage equivalent in Judaism. The interesting thing about Conservative Judaism is that there is often a disconnect between what we are taught and what we do. We cannot, however, change what we teach. That's Judaism. The rest is us living in modern America as we wish.
Joem789 February 28, 2013 at 04:11 AM
The unfiltered Internet is not suitable for children. And when I say children I mean anyone who is yet to become wise enough. That would be the 20s at least. Giving kids the Internet is like giving them a large book full of good things, with porn pics in the middle, and then telling them to skip over the bad stuff. Kids have hearts of fools. They must be raised in the way they should go. This requires sheltering them from many of the things they should avoid, and disciplining them so that they can have the strength and courage to still avoid those things when they become independent. The last statement in the article is naive. There are far too many people not using the Internet in a positive manner and will always refuse to. So it will require a large policing to stop it all. There are those who continue to try and turn every corner of the WWW into a sewer. OpenDNS is not good enough. Too much of a hassle considering every time the broadband connection resets, one must go in manually and update the IP in openDNS controls. And its easy to bypass anyway. While I agree that we must educate our kids and raise them right. They are still born sinners. They aren't immune to temptation at all. But it is important that they be nurtured without corruption for a certain number of years. Partial isolation is the key. Block or turn off the Internet.
Harriet Brown February 28, 2013 at 04:28 PM
The internet is a tool. It can be used for good or evil. Parents need to monitor their children, if they don't want them to see everything on the internet. There are parental controls. But, it is similar to a newspaper, magazine or television. They can all be used for good or for evil.

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