Kosher smartphones answer to a higher authority

Devices that comply with ultra-Orthodox Jewish law are now available, but only chosen ones can get one.

By Jonathan Berr Sep 20, 2013 2:55PM
An ultra Orthodox Jewish man speaks on his cellular phone along a street in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, May 3, 2011 (© Nir Elias/Newscom/Reuters)Leaders of Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community have given their blessings to several kosher smartphone models. That reverses their earlier stance that such technology was a "new form of evil" -- which led one prominent rabbi to smash a handset in public, according to the Jewish Daily Forward.

The religiously conservative Jews, also called Haredi, objected to smartphones because they allow users free access to the Internet and the wider secular culture, including pornography. To address these fears, companies serving the community, such as Ramit Levy Communications, are "dumbing down" the devices by restricting a user's ability to surf the Net.

Ramit Levy does give users access to some 600 apps that its religious advisers have approved in areas such as banking and satellite navigation, according to the paper.

Ironically, the phone Ramit Levy is modifying is the LG Nexus 4, dubbed the Google (GOOG) Phone because the search engine giant developed it to show off the very technology that caused the Haredi no end of worries.

However, users have to be chosen to buy the phones, and getting chosen isn't easy. Students at religious schools, for one, are rejected because they should be focusing on their studies.

"To apply for one, you have to complete a form outlining your reasons for needing a smart phone, and secure the approval of your rabbi, whose name and phone number must be written down so that the company’s supervising rabbis can decide whether they think that you can be trusted to use it responsibly," the Forward says. "They accept work-related reasons, but not requests for recreational -- or what they deem frivolous -- use."

Ramit Levy's rival in the market is Nativ, which sells a phone that is even more "kosher" because it's stripped of its ability to send and receive calls in order to limit their use to work hours.

Even isolated communities have to make peace with the modern world.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr and at

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Sep 22, 2013 3:50PM
So you need permission from the rebbe to buy this thing, and then access is limited to "safe" sites. How is this not an eternal second childhood? 
Sep 20, 2013 6:56PM
Brother, the Haredi are a trustworthy bunch aren't they?
Sep 23, 2013 6:57AM
Dark Ages women haters with IT at their disposal... their poor. poor girl children...
Sep 23, 2013 6:45AM
I woould say screw it and stick to a home phone!
Sep 23, 2013 7:53AM
Here's an idea- If your faith prevents you from looking at something, then BLOODY DON'T LOOK AT IT!  Gee, now that was really hard, wasn't it?
Sep 23, 2013 12:08PM
Just proves that religious fanatics are nuts no matter what faith they come from. (I am Jewish)
Sep 20, 2013 11:32PM
wow no freedom for being Jewish huh? Thought they went through this they gotta fill out a form cause they can't be trusted with access to the internet..
Sep 23, 2013 6:02PM
they are all a sick sect, they not only look disgusting , the smell!
Sep 23, 2013 12:56PM
Looks like the guy in the picture could use a "Barber & Dentist" app!!!!!!
Sep 23, 2013 12:54PM
Upon further review, as they say in the NFL, I seriously hope he's calling his cousin, the dentist, for an appointment. 
Sep 23, 2013 12:51PM
I was wondering why smartphones were right up there on the treyf list with pork and shellfish until I realized it's what you can access.  So now they dumb down the phones, which is the functional equivalent of nobody's looking too closely what you order at the Chinese restaurant.  My favorite always was Moo Shoo Beancurd, wink wink.
Sep 22, 2013 11:12PM
Thank goodness I have no one above me to tell me what I can and can't do. 
Sep 23, 2013 10:06AM

This is ridiculous.  You can't isolate people from everyday society.  It's a phone for god sakes!  If you think granting permission, restricting the internet and placing strict peramaters is going to keep people from these "evils" you are just naive. If religion is that important, those principles and practices will take precedent in these people's lives and they will use the phone moderately and not go overboard.  I'm curious to know how many of these Orthodox jews that keep kosher actually follow it by the book.  It really makes you wonder. Afterall... who wouldn't grow tired of all these restrictions?   

Sep 23, 2013 11:07AM
God forbid that a Jew cannot have 24 hr acess to his bankbook LOL! The Money is certainly not one of their "EVILS"
Sep 23, 2013 9:19PM
And people think Muslims are radical.
Sep 21, 2013 1:13AM
Companies actually pay to have the kosher symbol. 
    Well if they don't they won't be able to sell their product very well .
    I see where this heading , having to accept the mark of the beast .
Sep 20, 2013 10:14PM

Just the beginning....


.....remember how kosher only pertained to meat, pickles, wine, and other select items....


.....and now dish detergent, laundry detergent, plastic/aluminum wrap, plastic cups, paper plates, ice,

eggs, milk, cream, orange juice, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salsa, fries, ice cream, pasta, butter, cookies, cakes, pudding, dough, bread, tortillas, peanut butter, etc...... the point where you can barely find a product without a kosher symbol on it, P, U, K, or D....


....with companies supposedly paying billions to Rabbi's and synagogues to have these symbols on their products, and the companies then passing the cost on to the consumers....


....and now non-food related items will now be deemed kosher, with telephone companies allegedly paying for this status....


....with persons of other faiths forced to pay for this every time these items are purchased, since there are nearly no alternatives  - with even Easter & Christmas food and dessert items having kosher symbols....


....with much of the monies reportedly being used for Apartheid actions in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Sep 22, 2013 4:41PM
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