Idol Chatter

It’s the new calling plan sweeping the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, or Haredi, in Jerusalem–the kosher cellphone number. BBC News reports that the latest means “religious adaptation to modern technology” for those of the strictly adherent group, involves cellphones that “cannot send or receive text messages, browse the internet or take photos–all activities that could potentially involve behavior considered ‘immodest.'”
But that’s not the phone’s only added-feature–Verizon eat your heart out!–this phone has a rabbinical stamp of approval, similar to kosher foods, and Israeli carriers have created distinct kosher cellphone code prefixes. Not only have these phone numbers “become a badge of religious observance,” but certain plans only allow calls to and from other kosher cells.
The idea is that the kosher plans can keep teens and others away from the temptations of modern communications, such as pornography or illicit chatting and texting amongst the sexes. Whatever happened to the notion of testing one’s faith? Wouldn’t it be a better overall lesson to overcome temptation rather than to avoid it all together?

One tourist industry worker interviewed for the piece, speaking about internet use, said, “I’m not afraid of the negative aspects because I grew up with internet and I feel I can control myself not to use the bad features.” However, two sentences later he seemingly contradicts himself, noting that he probably won’t let his own children use the internet when they are old enough.
While it could be argued that having a secular Sprint plan might be a better spiritual lesson, the idea of kosher cellphones arguably opens up entire new market niches AT&T might want to look into–like Marion Mobiles, Hindu Handsfree or maybe even Pagan Pay-As-You-Go. I can only imagine the features…

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