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Kosher Cellphones Help Haredi Jews Out of Tech Pickle


Some may not be able to live without the conveniences of smartphones, but Israel's traditional Haredi Jewish community is struggling to incorporate modern communication technologies into their lives while maintaining its doctrine.

Haredi Jews are typically forbidden from watching television and films and using the Internet for nonbusiness purposes. They have adapted the modern cellphone to their lifestyles by creating a "kosher cellphone" that looks like an ordinary phone, but only features basic functions (you know, good old-fashioned making and receiving calls, a calculator, and an alarm clock). The special phones cannot send or receive text messages, browse the Internet, or take photos — as all those features could potentially promote "immodest" behavior.

The phones have a Rabbi's stamp of approval that looks like the one you see on kosher food items. Some can only connect with other Haredi numbers and may come with distinct code prefixes that indicate to others that they are kosher, and are therefore a sign of religious observance.

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