Protests, Threats, Violence: Orthodox Jews Turn on One Another Over Smartphones

Nothing symbolizes the rift between the young and old generations of Orthodox Judaism as much as smartphone adoption

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Orthodox Jews
Wonder if Orthodox lawmaker Meir Porush's smartphone meets the strict criteria of the "Rabbinical Committee for Communications"? Photo: Miriam Alster/FLASH90

A young ultra-Orthodox Jewish man was violently attacked last week after he entered a local Jerusalem shop to buy a new smartphone.

The owner of “Cellular Giant” said his shop has seen regular protests in the Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Geula where it is located. But last week’s attack on the young customer “crossed a red line,” he told the Orthodox news outlet B’hadrei Haredim.

In fact, the attack occurred during one of those protests, when several demonstrators entered the store and began shouting at and hitting the young man. “Fool! You should be ashamed of yourself!” one older demonstrator is seen yelling at the youthful customer.

Behind this new movement against smartphones, even as younger Orthodox Jews slowly adopt more modern forms of communication, is the extremist “Rabbinical Committee for Communications.”

Last week, activists associated with the Committee targeted “Didi Phone” in the religious town of Bnei Barak near Tel Aviv. Shop owner David David said he had on a number of occasions in recent weeks been physically assaulted outside his store.

In a Channel 12 News podcast, ultra-Orthodox journalist Yair Cherki explained that for many in the closed Orthodox community, “the smartphone symbolizes every fear of those trying to keep the outside world out.”

In a further response to the incident in Jerusalem, the owners of “Cellular Giant” issued a statement that the behavior of the violent demonstrators “is, needless to say, not the way of Torah.”

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