Jerusalem – Despite denouncements and bans imposed by rabbis and religious leaders, many of Israel’s 750,000 Haredim are secretly and increasingly using the internet, according to a new study conducted by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Ha’aretz reports (http://bit.ly/1rGvfCx) the study found that a majority of Haredim are using assumed identities or a “nick” – abbreviation for nickname – to browse the internet and are even attempting to guess the real identities behind the so-called nicks of their fellow surfers.
The study also found that the Israeli ultra-Orthodox community is surfing online and accessing websites at all hours – as often as less religious Jews – usually from a mobile device since Internet access is forbidden in Haredi homes.
The purpose of the study was to “characterize the Haredi surfer.” The findings revealed that Haredim are using the web to “consult with one another, gossip madly and discuss a vast range of topics touching on their community, their thoughts and anguishes, emotions and needs, politics, halacha, and their experiences with peers in the online Haredi world,” behaviors which would be condemned in their real lives.
The analysis also determined that online usage in the ultra-Orthodox is not really much of a secret after all. In fact, major telecom companies like Bezeq have been specifically targeting Haredi users with advertisements geared toward the community. And Google Israel hosted its first ever conference for Haredi online marketers, entitled “Friday night over cholent and digital.”
The study concluded that an “internet revolution” has changed the way young Haredim are leading their lives.