Relaxation of the rules on kosher telephones: The Minister faces the haredim

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel moved on Sunday to ease restrictions on kosher cell phone plans and open up the market for so-called kosher lines, leading to a setback by ultra-Orthodox leaders.

Many haredim or ultra-Orthodox Jews use “kosher” telephones, ie devices on which social networks, text messages and most applications on the advice of the rabbis are inaccessible. The phone numbers associated with these devices and lines are also easily identifiable.

The new measures will allow full number mobility on kosher lines, which means that all users of kosher phones aged 18 and over will be able to keep their phone number in the event of a change of operator and the use of a fully functional smartphone. Many rabbinical authorities are strongly opposed to this because it will restrict de facto monitoring capabilities.

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The group responsible for kosher telephone services, known as the Rabbinical Committee for Communications, is very influential in the kosher mobile phone industry, as well as tools that have societal and commercial effects.

Kosher phone numbers are separate and have specific digits after the company prefix, so until now, if anyone called from a phone service not approved by the rabbinical committee, they were easy to prove that the caller’s number or unit was unattended and therefore ignored the rabbinic Community. standards.

Following a hearing held Sunday in the Department of Communications, Hendel promoted full mobility permits for kosher lines. The reform, which was first announced last month, will take effect on 31 July.

Under the new initiatives, companies will be able to offer content restriction based on consumer demand. The communications department said it expected an opening of the Haredi mobile market to competition would encourage companies to offer services at competitive prices and encourage the creation of additional kosher organizations that benefit consumers.

Prior to the announcement of the decision on Sunday, ultra-Orthodox leaders expressed strong opposition to the reform. Many have argued that allowing dialing with monitored prefixes for unsupervised cell phone service would undermine the ability of Haredi community establishments to maintain surveillance of their members.

The leader of the United Torah Judaism party, Moshe Gafni, attacked Hendel on Kol Chai radio on Sunday.

“Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel is trying to harm the way of life of the ultra-Orthodox people,” Gafni accused, saying Hendel refused to meet with a group of rabbis on Sunday.

A teacher holds up his mobile phone and confirms that he is ‘kosher’ at the entrance to an ultra-Orthodox school in Jerusalem on May 6, 2020. (Nati Shohat / Flash90)

“I have decided to allow number mobility, even for ultra-Orthodox citizens,” Hendel wrote on Twitter after his decision. “The role of a Prime Minister is to make decisions – even when some are against them – for the benefit of the state, not for the benefit of any group or sector.”

“Today, we are targeting half a million consumers in the ultra-Orthodox society and shifting power from activists to consumers,” he said.

Demonstrations in Jerusalem against the new measures have already become violent. Similarly, Haredi protesters rioted against the opening of non-kosher phone shops in their neighborhoods.

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