Kikar Davidka / Jerusalem
Photo: Miriam Woelke
It had been a year since I last visited some of my Mea Shearim friends. Too long and, in a way, I was glad to be back at the Batei Ungarin last night. The "Batei Ungarin - Hungarian Houses" are one of the backyards in this ultra - Orthodox neighbourhood in Jerusalem. It was great seeing all the Streimeles after living in Tel Aviv for a longer period of time. Schabbes atmosphere and probably hundreds of kids playing outside until their fathers were returning from "Kabbalat Shabbat" at the Synagogues. Then Kiddush is being made and the food comes out.
My friends (whose chassidic group I rather don't mention) were happy to see me back and so was I. The backyard mostly consists of Satmar, Neturei Karta, Toldot Aharon, Toldot Aharon Yitzchak and similar inhabitants. My friends had most of their children and grandchildren over for Shabbat and it was crowded. Men and women sitting separately in two different rooms. This procedure is always being carried out as soon as there are strangers in the house. When the family is alone, they all sit together without any gender separation.
And, as expected, one of the subjects last night was the Internet. In fact, my friends call it the "InterCHET". CHET in Hebrew means SIN or ONE MISSED THE GOAL (meaning he acted against the Torah or Halacha). I was told that Mea Shearim is having another gathering against the Internet use.
Of course, we had this huge discussion and almost the entire family spoke against the WWW. I said that not everything on the net is bad and one of the daughters actually works in an office with secular Jews. She has Internet access and we both stressed that there are many good things about the Internet.
However, this didn't help and my friends simply didn't see any use for such an invention. Men would just get negative ideas and no one needed the Internet in the past. Why now and for what ?
Each of us stuck to his position and Mea Shearim will keep on fighting all those iPhones, Androids and WWW connections in order to protect its youth.