Internet Ban Accomplishment – Secular Jew Now Running Largest Charedi Website

13

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

gc.jpgDirectors and principals of chareidi mosdos from around the Israel are expected to take part in Wednesday’s urgent kinos addressing the threats of the Internet in general, focusing on chareidi websites. The move is prompted by recent stepped-up calls from Gedolei Yisrael Shlita to close chareidi websites, a move that has resulted in the closure of at least two, Chareidim, and Etrog. In addition, employees of other sites have stepped down, including Dovid Rothenberg, the force behind Chadrei Chareidim and others.

The kinos will address the talmidim of families that have Internet in their homes, as well as those in which a parent is employed in a chareidi website or invested in such a project in any way.

While efforts to combat the internet were made in the past be Gedolei Hador Shlita, this time, it seems this time, the response is increasingly evident. The kinos will take place in Talmid Torah Yechavei Daas located at 17 Ohalei Yosef Street in Yerushalayim. At 8:00pm.

Interestingly, according to a Maariv report, the site Kikar.net is expected to follow the others and cease operation due to the increasing pressure from the rabbonim in Eretz Yisrael.

While the rabbonim are enjoying banner headlines in the chareidi newspapers, that only will gain ads and revenue with the closure of Hebrew chareidi websites, the facts paint a different picture, one that signals increased web traffic to chareidi websites, led by Chadrei Chareidim, perhaps the most prominent of the chareidi websites.

Back at Chadrei Chareidim, content manage and webmaster Eli Rothenberg has resigned along with his assistant Dov Povarsky, with both selling their shares in the business. The remaining investor and now sole owner is a non-frum Jew, who was the major shareholder all along, Guy Cohen, who during the past two weeks has been running the show, even posting a letter to surfers that he remains adamant in his position and has no plans in shutting the site.

The site remains the most popular Chareidi Hebrew site with its vast forums, perhaps at the heart of the call by rabbonim, with many accusing the forums as being a springboard for loshon hora and the dissemination of unwanted information.

While Cohen was only a business partner, today, the shaven-head boss is the editor and manager of the leading Hebrew chareidi website. The 40-year-old Cohen lives in Bat Yam and has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and has amassed his business experience at a Merrill Lynch unit manager. His company, the one that owns Chadrei Chareidim, Global Networks, also owns other websites, containing content not suitable for this forum.

If one seeks to evaluate the result of the kol korei from the rabbonim regarding the chareidi website, from Cohen’s perspective things could not be better, insisting since the call was issued, during the past two weeks, website statistics are up 30%. He boasts 65,000 unique visits daily on the Chadrei Chareidim site.

He explains there are 90 advertisers on the site, all pleased with the results. “What do the rabbis expect” questions Cohen rhetorically. “Don’t fly, don’t have a cellular telephone, and don’t travel on a bus. Does anyone really believe they can successfully launch a boycott against 90 firms?”

“Once the public realizes the battle is not a pure one, but fiscally motivated, there will be no fight. What is there to fight over? At the end of the day, the chareidi businessmen have much to lose too.

“If it escalates to a real war, then I will take off the gloves and permit those entering forums to post as they see fit and they will have a forum to express their opinions regarding those who seek to run their lives.

“This is a matter of economics. Any newspaper in the world today acknowledges a drop in readership and ads; because of the internet, and the same is true regarding the chareidi newspapers too. They are more than pleased to run the kol korei for the rabbonim.

“Undoubtedly, the rabbonim who signed are indeed respected individuals but it is hard for me to believe that Rabbi Elyashiv, who is 96, actually entered the Chadrei Chareidim site. I have my doubts if a 96-year-old person ever entered the internet at all, or worked with a computer. He accepts what is told to him. If an askan who is in his court says “Rav, the internet is bad” then he accepts it and signs [the kol korei]”.

Cohen draws an analogy to the prime minister, explaining he does not actually investigate every matter prior to making a decision, but makes decision based on information given to him by trusted aides and advisors.

When asked if it is a bit pretentious to regard a kol korei from gedolim as being “financially motivated”, Cohen explained “I am not frum. I am chiloni and I am not bound by their decisions. They are not my spiritual mentors”.

“For as long as the law permits and surfers wish to visit the website — I will continue providing content to the website. At present, not only is the site not waning, but the web traffic is increasing. They themselves are sending a message that they are unwilling to have others tell them what to do. The chareidi public feels it has the right to chose.

“It is as if the rabbonim were to announce one cannot use a automobile since some travel on shabbos. There are those who use cars to commit a robbery or because of their negligence, someone will be killed in a vehicular accident. What will chareidim do, leave their vehicles and return to the days of the donkey.

“It is simply not possible. There is no one that is going to prevent 400,000 visitors a month from entering Chadrei Chareidim and the internet is here to say. It cannot be stopped”.

Cohen goes on to explain that Chadrei Chareidim began as a modest forum under the banner Hyde Park in 2002. It grew rapidly as thousands of chareidim wanted to take advantage of the forum. It did not take long to begin realizing the financial opportunity and things began to move along until two years ago, Global Networks was born, under Cohen’s leadership. Cohen feels one of the attributes that accounts for its growing popularity is the fact that it is a chareidi world that is not run by the rabbonim. He boasts there is no discrimination, no segregation between “Litvaks and Chassidim”, but one online community. He relates to the website as a “virtual Kikar Shabbos”.

When asked by the daily Maariv about the banner headlines regarding the position of gedolim in the daily HaMevaser owned by R’ Meir Porush, Cohen explained “Porush is a hypocrite. He was interviewed on the Chadrei Chareidim site in the past too”. The rabbinical ban is not new he adds, stating the rabbonim came out against the internet a decade ago.

“When Porush ran for the Jerusalem mayoral post, he not only was interviewed on the website numerous times, he also waged a significant election campaign on the internet. HaMevaser can report that many have abandoned the websites but the facts speak for themselves.”

Cohen insists that he knows “for a fact” that Porush still surfs the web, still submits articles to forums and still visits the Chadrei Chareidim website. He feels there is simply no point in waging a public campaign that lacks the backing and support of the public.

Responding to the comments, R’ Meir Porush stated “It is simply not relevant what I think or do or what the askanim think. At present, the rabbonim are working to close the internet and I, as a chareidi Jew, must act accordingly.”

Regarding the decision of Rothenberg to step down, Cohen explains he respects this, a personal decision, one that is in line with Rothenberg’s beliefs.

Seeking to avoid conflict, Cohen is unwilling to disclose the name of Rothenberg’s replacement, a move he feels is beneficial for the time being to keep the pressure to a minimum.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


13 COMMENTS

  1. It’s rediculous how suddenly when it comes to internet ban you quote a “shaved head” fellow, givig him the full stage, against the Rabonim Afra l’pumeh.
    What hypocrisy “yeshiva” world.

  2. Does the “ban” extend to using internet based applications such as voice telephone systems, or systems that are totally integrated with the internet such as the banking (credit card) system?

  3. akuperma,

    this might answer your question,

    Meet Your Bashert Over ‘Video Conferencing’ – ShidduchVision, Approved By Gedolim
    November 25, 2009 PHOTO LINK BELOW: This past Sunday, together with the Rosh HaYeshiva, HaRav Malkiel Kotler, Shlita, the venerable Mashgiach, HaRav Matisyahu Soloman, Shlita and HaRav Dovid Weinberger, Shlita, Rav, Cong Shaaray Tefila, Lawrence, NY, Shadchanim and Baalei Batim alike gathered in Lakewood, to celebrate the launch of its first ShidduchVision studio.

    ShidduchVision, under the Haskamah of G’dolei HaDor and prominent Rabanim, consists of live interactive video conferencing which enables eligible single men and women who live in distant cities to “meet” one another. Such singles now have the opportunity to get to know each other in the comfort of a ShidduchVision studio, located in a private home in their own city. Sitting in front of commercial grade, high quality and highly secure professional video-conferencing equipment, in a personal and private studio setting, they can have a pleasant meeting, much as they would in person. Up to three such low-cost meetings can be arranged before the couple decides whether travel and meeting in person constitute the right next move.

    With studios currently operating in Baltimore and Chicago and with another opening soon in Toronto, Lakewood joins in the effort to further ease the Shidduch situation by alleviating the financial and emotional strain of long-distance dating. In many cases, the expensive and timeconsuming travel discourages people from undertaking to meet a proposed match who lives in another city. Others who do make such efforts become frustrated when the trip proves unsuccessful – which only further increases the likelihood that future suggestions involving travel will be shunned. By providing a low-cost, hassle-free means of introducing singles who live apart, ShidduchVision helps to remove one of the major barriers to successful Shidduchim.

    ShidduchVision Lakewood is now open and ready to serve Lakewood singles in facilitating their initial long-distance dates. Shadchanim will continue to suggest Shidduchim in their traditional way, and will be responsible for placing reservations in the studios for their singles. All ShidduchVision studios are also available for Shadchanim to meet singles from anywhere in the world, wherever other such studios are located.

    YWN PHOTO LINK: Click HERE for photos.

    For more information, contact Jeff Cohn, [email protected]

    (YWN Desk – NYC)

    the only way you can have a live hook-up is through the net

  4. When is Yeshiva World going to follow suit and close? The amount of Bitul Torah and Stam Hock that you cause is enough to close your website. Plus posting articles on the Church and other unworthy news. Who are your Rabbinical authorities you use to discuss issues and gives the authority to post these things?

  5. Oh my gosh, when will the chareidim learn and just shut down the entire internet?! Knowledge of how to utilize it might be a core job requirement for almost every single imaginable job, but who needs jobs when we have the brilliant askonim to support us!

  6. WHAT ABOUT YESHIVAWORLD!!!! WILL YESHIVAWORLD FOLLOW GEDOLEI YISROEL!?!?!? I DARE THE EDITOR TO ANSWER THE QUESTION!

    mmm111, think before posting, not only are you on the site but you even registered to post comments.

  7. #4 mmm111,

    Thanks for proving that you are a hypocrit sheb’hypocrit!

    If you have a beef with YWN why not turn your computer off & go learn ah yiddish vort if able.

  8. mmm11 has a point, the rabonim are not against necessary use of internet, but are definitely against charedi websites. And while I’m sure yw has looked into this it has failed to address his concerns.

  9. I’m a big believer in the wisdome of Gedolim, but at the same time I am a student of reality, the reality of this Golus.

    I’m sure it wasn’t these Gedolim each one on his own looking into the subject, seeking the pros and cons. This ban, like every other, has a non-Gadol instigator, who I’m sure besides the personal motives has also good explenations and many stories which make up ONE SIDE of the issue.

    The thing about bans is, although some times there are good reasons for both sides, there’s no ‘Askan’ who will run around to keep things the way they are – if it aint broken why fix… so the noise comes from the other side.

    And in this case we all know what kind of “Israeli askan politics” were the root of this ban… How sad. Look how in the same letter the Chareidim site put out stating they’re closing down they also acknowledge that it’s really the work of infemous ‘Askonim’, who did this out of revenge. It’s very clearly a revenge in the making.

    I personally think the Yetzer Hara is working hard on both ends of his battle….

    The whole Kol Koire doesn’t make any sense. The ban is not against HAVING internet, which it states is as status quo, which is only at work and only if not open to bad sites, but then it’s against “charidi web-stes that spread Lason Hara” and some how that included “Etrog” and “Charidim”, which were the best sites!

    So it really sounds like a joke: If you can have internet in the work place if it’s open only to good sites, so why not just tell us which is good and which is not? What’s it different then newspapers? Why do a move to close only the good? (onless their’s an interes of revenge by ‘Askonim’ involved…?!)

    The frum community did not succsseed in fighting bad newspapers by just banning them, till they created their own good ones. The way to fight bad is to create good.

    I don’t believe they were properly informed of the reality of the situation.

  10. People have to learn to handle anything in a proper way. Where, on this earth, cannot something, anything, not be handled either proper or improperly. L’havdil, even going to shul can be immensely great, but not if one schmuzes, leaves before everyone is finished davening, etc..etc…etc. the consequences in those cases are undesireable, to say the very least.

  11. Perhaps the Gedolim, Shlita, are confusing the Internet with the World Wide Web. The 2 are not the same.

    The Internet consists of the computers (the hardware) around the world, which communicate with each other.

    The World Wide Web consists of the web sites, which the Gedolim don’t want the Jews to look at. This is what they should be concerned about, not the Internet itself.

    The Internet can be used, if it is used in a proper way.

    E.g. email with Shul newsletters or Divray Torah, ShidduchVision, voice telephone systems, the banking (credit card) system, etc.

  12. Juut wanted to mention that a Kollel i know run by one of the biggest Gedolim in North America has internet in their office, with a stipulation of “issur yichud”; there must be at least two people in the office in order for it to be mutar.