Haredi Web Surfing

The haredi world says that their religious rabbinical sensibilities are being manipulated by businessman and politicians on their Internet sites. The skillful manipulation seriously damages the popularity of haredi Internet sites which offer news items, op-eds and talk-backs focusing on internal ultra-Orthodox matters, spiced with multimedia.

splash-index-computersOfficial rabbinic opinion allows surfing the Internet just for business purposes – but it’s a rule that apparently many are willing to break. According to a recently released study by the Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2008, 55 % of haredim who own a computer also were connected to Internet – this is compared to a national average of 92%.

“B’Hadarei Haredim”, “Haredim”, and “Kikar Shabbat” are the three biggest haredi sites, but there are smaller sites such as “Ladaat”.

They all dedicate themselves to issues such as new rabbinic decrees, interviews with haredi politicians and coverage of demonstrations.
While the haredi print media tends to deal with what is called “hard news” such as political and diplomatic stories, the haredi Internet sites delve into the depths of internal haredi affairs.

The site “Kikar Shabbat” will be posting an op-ed about the dangers of sending young boys to the mikveh, not from haredi mikveh-goers, but from secular perverts who frequent the baths.
The piece was carefully censored by the site’s editorial staff to take out words like “sex”, “backside” and “deviant”. Still, the topic of child abuse is strictly taboo in the haredi printed media.

Unlike the three daily haredi newspapers – Hamodia, Yated Ne’eman and Hamevaser – Internet sites are not aligned with any political or rabbinic leadership. This freedom, so they have discovered, allows them to be much more critical of rabbis, politicians and other haredi figures.

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