Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Lakewood internet article

I think the publicizing of the ban will have other schools, Jewish and not, pause and consider doing likewise.

Reading the article you feel proud of Lakewood.

The Star-Ledger:

Like so many Americans, Mesh Gelman relies on the Internet for work. But in a move that's likely to complicate his business in international trade, the Lakewood man plans to unplug his home computer from the wired world, shutting out all that's good -- and bad -- about the Web.
Gelman's reasoning is simple: His religious leaders have told him to do so.
The father of four is a member of Lakewood's tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community, whose leaders have declared that Internet access should be removed from homes with school-age children to better protect them from the bounty of sexual images online.
It is more than a suggestion. The community's policy -- formed with the principals of the area's 43 yeshivas, or Jewish private schools, and unveiled in late September -- decrees that any student with home access faces suspension or expulsion on the grounds that even one Internet-corrupted student could sway others.
Rabbi Moshe Weisberg, who has long discussed the dangers of the Web with other Lakewood rabbis, said children are not mature enough to use the Internet and are susceptible to sites sexual in nature, either openly or subtly so.
"Kids can become addicted to the point where it's almost like a drug addiction or an alcoholic addiction," said Weisberg, who runs a social services agency in Lakewood. "Even though there might be some value -- research, schoolwork -- the negatives so far outweigh the positives."
While figures were not available, rabbis said many parents among the Ocean County community's 6,500 Orthodox families have already canceled their Internet subscriptions.
Gelman, who dropped off his 6- and 8-year-old boys at Yeshiva Bais HaTorah yesterday, said he's still trying to figure out how to work at home without the Internet. But, he said, he will, praising the rabbi's policy as "smart."
"The Internet is not a bad thing, but people use it for the wrong reasons," Gelman said. "As a parent, it's hard when kids start asking you things and watching their innocence fall away. You wonder what they can learn on the Web. I know that with one little stroke of the key, you can end up in the wrong place."
While strict, the policy is not absolute. The community's rabbis may make exceptions for parents with e-mail-only access or with home businesses if computers are kept in a locked room or cabinet.

A different section of the policy forbids students from using Palm Pilots, cell phones and/or other hand-held devices with Internet access, though yeshiva principals are not required to expel students if they violate this part.
In a community in which few people have televisions, the rabbis' concerns extend beyond fears about children meeting sexual predators in chat rooms. They also worry about pictures.
"The issue of extramarital sex ... extends to even looking at ladies for pleasure, thinking about other ladies for pleasure," said Rabbi Netanya Gottlieb, principal of Yeshiva Bais HaTorah. "We really ... don't want children to see ladies who are dressed inappropriately ... If that one image goes into a child's head, it can wreak havoc with all the religious instruction."
Elsewhere, attempts to limit Internet use often are criticized as censorship. But Lakewood's Orthodox Jewish leaders said they do not expect any lawsuits.
Indeed, rabbis and people interviewed in Lakewood said there is widespread support for the rules, with little outward opposition save some blogging on the Internet. And they said similar policies in Israel have worked well.
Still, the ban drew some disapproval outside Lakewood.
"I think it's doing a great disservice to the students by prohibiting them from using what is essentially the primary communications medium of our time," said Kevin Bankston of the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation. Bankston hadn't heard of the policy until contacted by a reporter.
Lakewood's Jews comprise about a third of the township's population, community leaders said. The community began growing in the 1940s with the establishment of Beis Medrash Govoha, a yeshiva that has blossomed into one of the world's most prestigious schools for studying the Talmud.
"This is a self-selected group of people that choose to live in Lakewood," Weisberg said. "Being subject to rabbinic leadership here is completely voluntary ... If you're sending your kid to a private school, you've already made a choice. You want to guide your child in a certain direction."
The rabbis acknowledged that children know more about computers than do adults. When they unveiled the policy Sept. 27 at a large meeting, they had Internet experts on hand to teach parents about Wifi and Bluetooth. About 3,000 people attended.
"This was an education for the vast majority of people there, who had no idea what a (wireless) router was," or that a child could take any computer with wireless capacity around the block and use an unsuspecting neighbor's signals, Weisberg said.
Lakewood's Jewish leaders have been warning the community about perils of the Internet for nearly five years.
"Any practicing rabbi has his handful of cases where really good families, good marriages, have been broken up" because of time spent online, Weisberg said.
If the scene at Lakewood's public library is any indication, the rabbis will not get 100 percent compliance. Last Friday afternoon, six boys in traditional Jewish clothing were surfing the Web.
But the rabbis say 100 percent compliance is not the point; they do not plan midnight raids. Instead, they said they expect community members to use the honor system and sign written pledges that if they do need the Internet at home for work, they will ensure that kids cannot use it...

posted by Yeshiva Orthodoxy
at 8:02 PM


Anonymous Anonymous said...


5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This makes you proud of Lakewood? Please. It's just another example of the kanoim working their will on the "leaders" and on the tzibur.

To Emes: The only internet that is allowed is for business purposes. So far as I can tell, this blog does not qualify. And no doubt you visit other blogs as well. So either you're a hypocrite, or you're writing tongue in cheek.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Yeshiva Orthodoxy said...

It is not about any one individual.
It is about mantaining a Torahdik community.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It is not about any one individual."

Of course it is. Like all kanoisdike acts, especially in today's day and age, there's a kanoi behind the act. In this case, the kanoi is Nechemya Gottlieb, whose job as a principal is evidently not too demanding, as it leaves him time for all kinds of kanoisdike activities.

He's the one who gave us the mashgiach's anti-circus tirade, the phone campaign against a concert last year, and now the internet ban.

Don't be naive. There's always a hetser behind these things. This guy has been unusually active lately.

Emes: With all your frumkeit, though, I notice that you're still online, and not just for business. What's the difference where you live? If you think it's wrong, you have no business using it.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, right, it's the old "I can't control myself" excuse.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Yeshiva Orthodoxy said...

What would you do, if you were the Rov in Lakewood seeing the constant harm the internet, causes or contributes?

2:33 PM  
Blogger Yeshiva Orthodoxy said...

What would you do, if you were the Rov in Lakewood seeing the constant harm the internet, causes or contributes?

2:33 PM  
Blogger Emes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What would you do, if you were the Rov in Lakewood seeing the constant harm the internet, causes or contributes?"

First of all, I don't believe 90% of the scare stories re. the internet. But if I were the rov, I would arrange for the community to be educated about the dangers and about how to protect against them. If I thought giving up the net was the right thing to do, I would urge people to do so. I would *not* try to tell adults what they may or may not do. I would *not* cynically use the kids' chinuch as a club to beat anyone who disagrees with my view. I would *not* punish kids b/c their parents have a different view than my own. I *would* recognize that ultimately chinuch is the parents' job, and that parents can generally be trusted to make the right decisions regarding their own children. I would *not* try to undermine the authority of parents by pretending that they are not fit to make chinuch decisions.

What's needed is to educate people as to the dangers, not to withdraw from society and stick our heads in the sand. What's not needed is the kanoim's approach (sadly, more and more often the approach of our "leaders" as well) of "my way or the highway."

You'll be interested to know, and perhaps you already do, that many principals at the meetings argued against the coercive approach, and for the approach of educating people as to the dangers. The kanoiom turned a deaf ear. They know best.

And this is in addition to their wilfull blindness as to the real cause of kids' problems. There are very, very few kids who become "fardorben" from the internet. It's the other way around. Fardorbene kids are busy with the internet. But how were they ruined in the first place? Could the oppressive "one size fits all," super-frummie, mehalech of our great leaders have anything to do with that? You bet! But don't expect them to admit to it.

Let the kanoim butt out of everyone's business, and let the "leaders" grow a backbone and begin thinking for themselves. That's what I would advise if I were the rov.

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see "Emes" removed all his comments. I hope he doesn't forget to click Clear History too.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please ..lakewood wants to return to the stone age and drag everyone along with it.

Proud? I cant hide my face enough from shame.

5:14 PM  

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