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JERUSALEM (RNS) A new Internet search engine is making it possible for ultra-Orthodox Jews who use computers to obtain information online– but not on the Sabbath, when the site shuts down.
Dubbed Koogle (a cross between Google and kugel, the name of a Jewish noodle pudding), the Hebrew-language search engine is being touted as a kosher portal for devout Jews who almost universally shun the Internet because many online sites are religiously inappropriate.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews, known as haredim, live according to the strictest interpretation of the Torah as interpreted by their respective rabbis. They usually live in insular communities where access to secular culture is severely restricted. TVs are banned while computers and the Internet are tolerated strictly for work purposes.
In their mission statement, Koogle administrators said the site’s goal is to “filter the appropriate information from different Web sites that are relevant to our target audience in a way that does not contradict the values of our traditional Jewish audience.”
Koogle is not a filter for surfers who want to access secular Web sites. Rather, it is a compilation of Israeli resources deemed inoffensive by the administrators. It includes news, business directories and links to realtors, kosher restaurants, hotels as well as mohels, or ritual circumcisers, and rehab centers.
While many listings include both contact information and a link to the business’ Web site, the one for lingerie provides only addresses and phone numbers.
In keeping with the norms of the haredi community, no photos of women — no matter how modestly attired — are permitted on Koogle. Nor are there ads for TVs, DVD players or other “unkosher” products. Koogle does not operate on the Jewish Sabbath, which begins on Friday night at sundown and ends 25 hours later.
By Michele Chabin
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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