40,000 Turn Out For Haredi Orthodox Rally on Internet

JTA
May 20, 2012

Haredi Orthodox rabbis issued grave warnings about the dangers of the Internet to a sellout crowd at the New York Mets' Citi Field in Queens, N.Y. on Sunday.

Speaking to the audience of 40,000 men, almost all of whom wore black hats, one speaker compared the threat of the Internet to the dangers that Zionism and the European Enlightenment posed in the past to traditional Jewish life. In particular, they decried the Internet's potential to distract yeshiva students. Several rabbis said that Jewish law forbids Jews from browsing the Internet without a filter that blocks inappropriate sites.

"The internet even with a filter is a minefield of immorality," said Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman. "This issue is the test of the generation. Your strength at this gathering will determine what Judaism will look like a few years from now."

The rally was organized by a Haredi Orthodox group called Ichud HaKehillos L'Tohar Hamachane, or Union of Communities for Purity of the Camp.

About 50 people protested the event across the street from the stadium. Many of the protestors came from Footsteps, a New York-based organization that helps people who leave haredi Orthodox life to integrate into non-haredi society.