Thousands join debate on dangers of internet

By Marcus Dysch, August 2, 2012

A conference to discuss steering young strictly Orthodox Jews away from online dangers is expected to attract up to 6,000 people.

It is understood that “addiction to the internet” is being cited in an increasing number of cases coming before various London batei din. They include marriage break-ups and incidents of parents and children clashing over the amount of time youngsters spend online.

The Union of Hebrew Orthodox Congregations has hired Alexandra Palace in north London for next month’s event. High-profile speakers are due to attend from Israel, the US and Belgium.

A member of the conference’s organising committee said: “They will be condemning the internet. It is used for so many bad things. At the press of a button you can end up with porn and all sorts of stuff. The rabbonim want to protect the community. People should not have access to it.”

A similar event in Mill Hill, north west London, last month attracted 1,800 people. Delegates discussed whether some aspects of modern technology, including internet-enabled devices, could be considered “kosher”.

Rabbinical authorities accept that the world wide web cannot be “banned” in its entirety, and instead intend to issue guidelines for safe, limited internet use. The conference is expected to identify passwords and filters which community members will be encouraged to adopt when using the internet.

“Maybe we will decide to use passwords that only the parents know and then the children will not access such material,” said the organiser.

Around 3,000 strictly Orthodox men from the UK celebrated a special event at London’s Royal Festival Hall on Monday evening. The Daf Yomi Siyum marked the end of a seven-and-a-half year cycle of daily Talmudic studies.

The event featured a seven-tiered stage. Organiser Mark Curtis said it had been difficult to find a large enough venue during the Olympics but that the evening had been “pretty cool and very successful”.

Last updated: 2:56pm, August 2 2012