Own an iPhone? No Aliyah to the Torah for you!

June 19, 2016  

A rabbi from the Ramot Daled neighborhood of Jerusalem issued a new religious edict in his synagogue stating that any person who possesses a smartphone with unfiltered Internet access may not receive a Torah Aliyah (calling a congregation member to the podium for a segment of reading) nor may he serve as cantor.

In recent days, a sign was erected at the Jerusalem synagogue implementing the Rabbi’s provisions.

“Whoever, God forbid, has a prohibited iPhone or any other device of the sort, may not lead prayer nor have an Aliyah to the Torah,” read the sign, clarifying that even if the individual is the only Kohen (member of the priestly class) present, his rights should be skipped and given to someone else instead.

A few months ago, thousands of Gur Hasidim assembled in Jerusalem in an “emergency conference against the ravages of technology” which introduced regulations pertaining to the use of the Internet.

During the meeting, it was made clear that all Hasidim must not use any device that exposes them to the Internet, unless it is needed for work purposes. It was further clarified that even those with permission to use smartphones, were forbidden to have them in the synagogue and during Haredi deliberations.

The WhatsApp application received special attention by the rabbis, who harshly condemned use of the program and called for yeshiva students to disconnect from it. According to them, the popular cross-platform mobile messaging app may only be used to correspond with someone who is not Orthodox, and for work purposes only.

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