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Ultra-Orthodox Jews discuss limits to the Internet

Ultra Orthodox Jews read the Esther scrolls at a synagogue in the Israeli town of Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv on March 7, 2012 during celebrations of the Purim holiday. Tens of thousands of ultra orthodox Jews gathered at the home of the New York Mets -- Citi Field -- to discuss the virtues and evils of the Internet.

Jeremy Hobson: In New York last night tens of thousands of Ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered at Citi Field -- that's where the Mets play -- to discuss the ups and downs of the Internet. Isaac Jamal was among those on hand.

Isaac Jamal: The Internet today, if you don't have a filter on it -- not even for the Jewish world, for the secular world and for kids -- it's very, very hard to watch it and to overcome all the situations that come up online.

So what do the Orthodox rabbis who convened the event at Citi Field want from the Internet? Here's Marketplace's Shereen Meraji.


Shereen Marisol Meraji: Everyone got a glossy magazine with tips on how to -- as the event spokesperson Eytan Kobre puts it -- separate the technological wheat from the chaff.

Eytan Kobre: What hath technology wrought in our lives, to our brains, to our hearts, to our ethics, to our relationships?

Kobre says the web hath wrought addictions to pornography and online gambling. He says every computer in an Orthodox Jewish home should have some sort of web filter -- at the very minimum.

And Kobre is not a fan of social networking sites, like Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook.

Kobre: I'm very happy for Mark that he's making billions of dollars off of this, but it's leaving a trail of disruption of the fabric of human life.

But, Tweeter and blogger Rabbi Eliyahu Fink says social media helps stretch his message way beyond the synagogue.

Eliyahu Fink: It's really a great opportunity I think that should not be missed.

He agrees that there's a right and wrong way to use the Internet. Rabbi Fink even supports web filters. He's just not convinced that summoning thousands to Citi Field was the best use of time and resources.

Fink: But, sometimes people need to hear things from big rabbis with long beards in order to take them seriously.

I'm Shereen Meraji for Marketplace.

About the author

Shereen Marisol Meraji is a reporter for Marketplace’s Wealth & Poverty Desk.

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