One of STAR-K Kosher Certification’s most recently certified products is neither fleishig, milchig, nor pareve. Actually, the only culinary connection it has is to spiritual food for thought! Give up? It is the STAR-K Kosher Phone. STAR-K Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Zvi Goldberg, who administers its certification, answers some commonly asked questions about one of the newest additions to the STAR-K family of products.
Q. Why would I need a Kosher Phone?
A. It allows talking, only. The software installed in the Kosher Phone makes it reasonably difficult to reinstall texting and internet capabilities. It also does not accept an SD card, has no camera or Bluetooth capabilities.
Q. How does the Kosher Phone work? What is the difference between this phone and other Kosher Phones?
A. This phone does not require you to buy a special monthly plan. You can take a SIM card from any GSM provider and put it in. So for example, if you already have a plan and want to add a line for your child, you just insert the SIM card into the phone.
Q. Why do you feel that it is important to certify the Kosher Phone?
A. STAR-K recognizes the dangers inherent in unmonitored, unguarded internet access, and we feel we have taken an important step in helping people guard themselves or their children against the challenges of the modern technology. We are not saying it is for everyone, but rather that there is an important place for it.
Q. What are some other advantages to the Kosher phone?
A. Parents, legitimately, may prefer their child to have a cell phone, for safety purposes and to stay in touch. However, besides causing children to waste time, a cell phone’s texting capability can be expensive. Also, it is commonplace for students to text under their desks, during class. The Kosher Phone provides a good solution for parents who want their children to have a cell phone.
Q. What does a STAR-K certification mean with regard to the Kosher Phone?
A. STAR-K sent the Kosher Phone to expert hackers, asking them to reinstall texting and internet capabilities. They told us it they couldn’t do it. We certify that it would be very difficult for the average person.
Q. How will the STAR-K Kosher Phone be distinguished from other cell phones?
A. It is a flip phone and there is a sticker bearing the STAR-K logo on the front of the phone. When turned on or off, the STAR-K logo appears on the screen. In addition, when you turn on the phone, there is a reminder to refrain from speaking loshon hora.
Q. Is the Kosher Phone a locked phone?
A. No, it is unlocked and can be used anywhere in the world.
Q. Why can’t a person just buy a basic phone and call their provider to disable internet or texting?
A. Although you should do that also, it is not always effective. The carrier sometimes says that it will be turned off but it is not. Also, pre-paid plans do not generally allow you to modify the plan. Some phones have Wi-Fi capability which is not controlled by the carrier. Lastly, a school or camp administrator cannot readily see that the functions have been removed. With the STAR-K kosher phone, with one glance they can see it is kosher.
Q. There are so many apps that are useful for the frum consumer, such as: Siddur, Benching, Tehilim, etc. Is it possible to have the Kosher Phone with these apps?
A. No, it is not a smartphone.
Q. What is the problem, “kashrus-wise”, with having Bluetooth capability? I thought Bluetooth is for headsets.
A. Bluetooth capability would allow the phone to be reprogrammed.
Q. What is Text Bullying and how can the Kosher Phone protect our children from it?
A. Text (or Cyber) bullying is becoming a major problem. Kids will send mean or hurtful messages to other kids, often anonymously. Experts say that it has become more common than traditional bullying, especially among girls. The Kosher Phone is one way that parents can play an important role in preventing text bullying.
Q. Will the Kosher Phone be made available to people in our community, exclusively?
A. No, there is a market for it for many different people that have similar needs.
Q. Would you like to put a disclaimer on the Kosher Phone?
A. Yes. Obviously, having this phone does not prevent your child from buying another phone and putting the sim card in there. And, it does not prevent someone from connecting to phone numbers that are inappropriate.
Q. How can I learn more about the Kosher Phone, online?
A. STAR-K held a webinar about the phone. You can view it here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6w5YfbxQ_ocTzBwMjVRVXlkNUE/edit?usp=sharing
Q. What is Kosher Phone’s contact information?
A. 914-752-8073; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.kosherphonewireless.com.