March 31, 2006

Living in a Material World [8:21 am]

But there’s hope for the orthodox: ‘Kosher’ Phone Merges Technology, Faith [pdf]

The phones _ carrying the seal of approval from Israel’s rabbinical authorities _ have been one of the most successful mergers of technology and centuries-old tradition in the ultra-Orthodox community, which is most widely recognized by the men’s black garb based on the dress of 19th century European Jews.

The kosher phone is stripped down to its original function: making and receiving calls. There’s no text messaging, no Internet access, no video options, no camera. More than 10,000 numbers for phone sex, dating services and other offerings are blocked. A team of rabbinical overseers makes sure the list is up to date.

These are the same rabbis who have told followers to scorn television and radio. But mobile phones are considered just too essential in one of the world’s most tech-friendly nations. The ultra-Orthodox account for about 7 percent of Israel’s 7 million people.

Datapoints for, or inspiration from, Genevieve Bell?

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