Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Internet asifa, does it have to be grand ?

Why these grandiose events? cant we get the same point across by doing it on a smaller scale. Is it not called a success if we wont fill a stadium. With the amount of money spent on this event we can do more by investing in filters that will work as a solution to the problem. We can have a huge event in Brooklyn or Lakewood with 5000 people is that not enough? We can have satellite events take place in other cities at the same time. The organizers, after unilaterally deciding to make it in Citified stadium home of the NY mets, are now faced with a problem How do we fill it up? It will also be a chilul hashem if they cant fill it up. For this, they reached out to all Rabbonim and admorim who have control over thousands of talmidim and Chasidim, who in turn issued letters calling on everyone to attened. There will be buses from new square Monroe and williamsburg. The Lakewood roshei yeshiva issued a letter too, calling on everyone to go. In a letter from the Gedolim in EY it states that even youngeleit should attened due to the importance of the event even though it will cause Bittul torah ( the event will be a few days before Shavuos during the zman right before kabolas hatorah) since בטולו זה קיומו.

 On a Sunday in May, many wont mind a trip to the ballpark, but, are they going at there own will ? if they fill up the stadium will that make it an effective campaign?
It would be better if they put more energy and money into the message as opposed to having a grand event. The same anonymous organizers who spear headed the first Internet  asifa have failed in the follow up  resulting in more people having Internet access with out proper guidelines and education on the dangers of technology. Should we trust them again. Apparently they changed course realizing that the Internet is here to stay But a bit too late.

 Perhaps its time for a transparent vaad of mechanchim that are not hiding behind rabbonim but out in the for front speaking their mind. Yes, the Rabonim are behind it and everyone agrees there is a problem. How to tackle it and fight it is another issue. By forcing a grand event on people it might make some noise, however it might not be as effective if we hold smaller seminars or have rabbonim  who understand the need and use for Internet, talk to people and help in getting the proper filters and safeguards.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Gezehn oif Skype"

   Gezehn oif skype,  translated from Yiddish as "saw it on Skype". Its a phrase that has now entered the vocabulary of the Yeshivia world. Its been mentioned and quoted by many including  Roshei Yeshiva. While the battle on dangers of  technology is on and as the internet is a double edged sword whose dangers can cancel its blessings, there are some luxuries and conveniences that we seem to take advantage of.
   At many Simchas now or lehavdil a levaya, relatives or friends that can not be physicaly present are watching it online through skype. Many wedding halls have installed  video cameras that can be hooked up online. There are several chesed organizations that feature a live webcast of a chasunah or simacha for a relative  to watch who is too old or not well and can not attened. Many roshei yeshiva have befitted from this technology and can now participate in a way that was not done before. In the Lakewood yeshiva, the Bochurim talk via Skype with a mashgiach who has moved to Eretz Yisroel. There is even a service for Shidduchim by shidduchVision for live interactive video confrencing  in cases where the boy or girl are out of town and not within driving distance for the initial date.

   These are not what we can call a necessity, but more of a luxury as it can be done over the phone or you can watch a recoreded video of an event. Yet this technology is available now and we got used to it to the point that we can't do with out, just like the telephone and automobile. This only complicates the issue of how we want to ban and limit internet use for buisness only, because we are already at the stage where luxury is a necessity and even rabbonim are taking advantage of it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rabbonim change strategy, refocus the battle against Internet and technology.

    In September 2005 the first major Asifa regarding the dangers of the Internet took place in Lakewood. The Rabbonim and speakers all pointed out the fact how dangerous it is for the well being of families not only children but adults as well. Takkanos were implemented where people were not allowed to have internet access at home and kids will not be accepted, or expelled from school if parents didn't comply with the ban. A local paper quoted "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".

    However, no one at the time was tech savvy enough to understand the importance of the internet in our daily lives it was seen as a luxury and maybe for some, essential for business. They fought it with the same tactics and strategy that was used to fight television. They did not do proper follow up to the ban and failed to realize the good of the internet too. The results were predictable: more people got internet access. The availability of Smart phones and newer tablets  give people access to the web where ever they go. Its not restricted or confined to a house or office. A lack of education in explaining the good and the bad of the web contributed to many not being careful when going online.

Realizing that its a lost battle, the rabbonim now are refocusing the approach on how to fight the dangers of the web. A giant Asifa is planned for this coming may 20th. The theme is not to ban the internet, but, rather: The Internet  "We cant live with it we cant live without it" using technology responsibly al pi torah. They realize it is here to stay and the fight now is to  focus on proper safeguards, filters, and education on the dangers of technology especially with smart phones ipads and other devices. Over the years there have been many different ways and approaches by various rabbanim, roshei yeshiva and admorim on how to deal with the Internet, but a noticeable change is that all agree it is here to stay and we must learn how to deal with it properly. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Massive Asifa on dangers of the Internet and technology to take place at Citi field stadium on may 20th 2012

 A massive gathering preempting the Siyum hashas, by Ichud Hakehillos, bringing together Yidden from all over the US is planned for Sunday Iyar 28 – May 20th 2012 at Citi Field in Queens, NY.
This comes as a result of the Asifas Harabonim which was held this past Elul at a conference center in Newark, N.J. where over 600 Rabbonim from all sectors of Klal Yisroel gathered to discuss ways to combat the ever growing challenges of the internet.
The gathering named " Klal yisroel"  is being called by The Skulener Rebbe Shlita ,Rabbi Matisyahu Salamon, Mashgiach of Lakewood yeshiva, The Skver Rebbe as well as all leading Admorim and Roshei Yeshivos of the united states.
At the gathering, practical ideas and methods will be presented which will enable individuals and kehillas to implement practical and realistic safeguards to help overcome the ever growing technological threats that faces our communities. These ideas will be further tailored to accommodate the specific needs of the varying communities and kehilas.
The common thread is to ensure that the internet is only used via a filter of some sort. At the Asifa they plan on introducing a Tech Hotline for all communities to assist all with their tech questions and offer solutions and guidance.
 Notices will be printed in this week’s papers and that the cooperation between all of the various groups involved including all major media venues is unprecedented. B’’H there is a tremendous feeling of excitement in the air by the unparalleled Achdus.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Have we no Busha ? A new face to facebook

One of the three defining characteristics of Klal Yisrael is, we are bayshanim, we are easily embarrassed. The Internet  in general and social media in particular have caused many to unmask the busha from themselves. They do so by publicising anything and everything about their private  and personal life. Its all out in the open for the world to see. We are living a life, where every random thought gets tweeted and each action is photographed and shared with friends who vote to like it. 

A new recent phenomenon is taking place  which until now has never been an accepted behavior by the frum torah yeshiva world and especially by the Chasidish crowds. I'm talking about frum couples posting pictures of themselves. Not just a regular picture, but pictures showing affection. Pictures of chiba, weather they are touching each other, holding hands, hugging, or other poses that are not to be for the public to see and considered Chiba b'rabim. Yet, young frum couples innocently upload these pictures  on facebook for all to see with out any busha. It can be the private pictures of the Chasunah or of a recent vacation. This is not happening by the modern orthodox crowd, it is by the yeshivish baal habatish and heimish crowd. Take a look at your friends facebook page and many are posting  images which is purely Chiba berabim. Never have people in previous generations publicized such pictures of themselves outside of their home. 

A frum photogropher has launched a contest on Facebook asking couples to upload a picture of themselves, and the one with the most likes gets a free couple photo shoot. Have we no shame ?? We are voting on a picture of Chiba berabim in a contest? Is this the norm. What happened to our busha? Our sensetivities have been dulled, our busha unmasked. At this time of purim let us daven that the the mask of busha  be put back on our face.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Artscroll Shas Goes digital with state of the art App, ready in time for new Daf Yomi cycle.

 Click Here to watch a preview of the new ArtScroll Talmud App.
We hear so much about the dangers of technology, we tend to forget the  good side too. Artscroll a leader in spreading torah and making it accessible to the masses, has announced the development of a groundbreaking digital version of the Schottenstein Talmud to run on mobile devices such as the iPad and the iPhone. It is Schedualed for realese in time for the Sium Hashas and the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi. In a quote to VIN rabbi Zlotowitz said:
   “We have a mandate from R’ Gifter that we must harness technology and use it make Torah accessible to as many people as possible. We have been hoping to do this since the e-book concept first began, but the proper hardware and software didn't exist for the ambitious type of project we were envisioning.  Just a year or two ago doing something of this magnitude meant having a dedicated hardware platform which was totally impractical.  With so many people using iPhones, iPads and iTouches, many people already own the hardware they need to use this app.”