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Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Internet Ban: Not just for Lakewood anymore!

Over the last couple of weeks, signs and 2-page-spread ads (in Hebrew and Yiddish) have been appearing around Monsey and its various publications.

The text was a play on a verse in Tehillim (psalms) 144: Our oxen are loaded; there is no breaking in nor going out and no crying in our streets.

Editor's note: The word for oxen - alufeinu - can also mean 'leaders,' and the word for 'loaded' can also mean 'patient' or 'accepted.'

The verse is essentially coming to describe a tranquil and discord-free lifestyle.

The ads parse the verse into phrases and put question marks after each. Our leaders are accepted? There is no breaking? There is no going out? There are no cries in our streets?

The implication being, there are plenty of problems in our community. And there's going to be a "grand gathering" of great Rabbis to address these pressing issues.

The ads don't say what the pressing issues are. Nor do they say when this grand gathering is going to happen. They just say, "Details to come."

About two weeks later, the same ads appeared, only this time with a logo that depicts a computer in the universal "no" circle, and in small Hebrew print, the text around the circle reads, "To save our children from the dangers of the 'Net."

And there it is. The Thought Police: Now playing at a neighborhood near you.

But first, a question: What's gained by all this secrecy? What's accomplished by this long-term tease? I'm not sure. Building suspense? What for? If it's such a danger, act fast!

Also, I am disappointed. I mean, I was excited at first, because I thought the grand gathering would discuss some of the serious problems plaguing Monsey - kids going off the derech, rampant dishonesty, baseless hatred, rabbinic scandals, you name it. Monsey has plenty of problems. But no. They're circling the wagons and blaming the problems on "the 'Net."

This week, large signs - probably 3' by 4' - are plastered on the bus stops on Maple and 306. (I haven't seen them anyplace else.) They say, in Yiddish, "Would you set a trap for your own children?!" The graphic is a computer mouse in a mousetrap. The text below reads: "A trap from which they will never escape, G-d forbid?!"

And again, that's the entire text of the sign.

I wish they'd just come out and say it: We're going to bring the narrow-minded and short-sighted idiocy of Lakewood home to Monsey, and we're just upset that they did it first.

The grand gathering, I assume, is going to feature chasidish rabbis at first, I'm sure, preaching to the choir. The 'askonim' involved may try to rope in some slightly more moderate school principals, starting with Beis Dovid and Beis Mikra and perhaps attempting to include Yeshiva of Spring Valley. They're not going to get much further, I don't think. And they'll try to institute the same, or worse, punishments for violating the ban: Immediate expulsion of your children from Yeshiva.

It is my sincere hope that parents and somewhat moderate rabbinical leaders and educators (including but not limited to R' Horowitz, R' Fink, R' Rudinsky, R' Gottlieb, etc.) come out in force and state their opposition to this nonsense vocally.

Am I saying the Internet is a wonderful thing and children should have complete and unrestricted access thereto? Of course not. But I'm saying that it's an essential tool that must be used with care. And decreeing that our kids can't see it or use it, on pain of expulsion, hobbles their education and guarantees that they will be unable to compete in the workplace.

I recommend comprehensive education for parents! Teach them how to install and use monitoring software. Teach children how to use the Internet safely. Go into it with open eyes and clear understanding of halacha. But don't criminalize it, villify the 'others' who use it, and push the potential violators even further into the shadows. It's a recipe for disaster, and I'm not interested in seeing it play out in my backyard.

Amen, kain yehi ratzon!
>hobbles their education and guarantees that they will be unable to compete in the workplace.

Lakewood never banned internet from the workplace.
You are so right...

This will be another opportunity for parente to me mevazeh these so called leaders for this nonsense ban... and nebbech show their kids how to ignore any authority figure.

anyone wonder why so many kids are taking off and leaving (if they were ever here)?
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Unfortunately, we all knew that this was going to go further than simply Lakewood. Sadly, I expect it to go further and reach more communities as time goes on.

The Wolf
almost-frei commits the biggest and most widespread frummie blunder by thinking that frum rabbis can't ever make mistakes and that anyone who criticises is by definition wrong themselves.

thank G-d kids are following their parents and learning to disobey poor stupid foolish leadership.

that is responsible parenting.

it's not "any authority figure" the kids and the parents are treating with well-deserved contempt.. it's just the bad public leadership.

and may they lose all their followers bimherah beyameinu.
LakewoodYid - if the first time a yingerleit sees the Internet is when he starts working, he's going to be pretty unproductive for the first year or three. If he knows how to use the technology and is thoroughly aware of its potential dangers, and the company has filters in place, he can be mekayem 'v'asafta d'ganecha' as G-d intended.

Almost Frei - there are no leaders. All of our so-called manhigim have already proven their inability to lead and they've demonstrated their own absurdity time and again.
It's plain dumb to argue that the Internet is a must-have so that kids will be able to compete in the workplace when they grow up.

I suppose then we should also have our children balance our checkbooks, do our taxes, learn the subway commute, learn powerpoint/excel/word/access/outlook, learn how to diagnose windows problems, and the hundreds of other things a person needs to know to compete successfully?

Of course not. When a young wo/man is ready to go out and join the workplace, s/he will learn what they need to know.
Big Maybe - I disagree wholeheartedly. If you look at 8th grade curricula from 50 and 60 years ago, you'll see that kids *were* expected to balance checkbooks, calculate interest on loans, etc. And learning the subway system is a logical step for self-reliance. I ventured onto the subway for the first time, on my own, when I was 19. I think that was too late.

As for the MS applications you mentioned, kids should absolutely learn them early and thoroughly. Word, Excel, and basic presentation skills should be standard fare starting in seventh grade.

And the Internet can and should be used - by CHILDREN - as a research tool. In my day, we went to the library and used encyclopedias. Times have changed. There's no reason to pretend they haven't.
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