2019 - 2020

  The Haredi Society and the Internet                                                                  
Yoval HaroviGilman-humanities361Mon1200-1400 Sem  1
University credit hours:  2.0

Course description

The course employs a combined viewpoint – historical and contemporary- in exploring the ultra-orthodox press in Israel and ultra-orthodox society’s perception of the internet.

The existence of ultra-orthodox press must not be taken for granted. It has evolved as a means for the ultra-orthodox society to defend against the threats posed by modernization and secularization. Endorsed by the important rabbis of the sector, the ultra-orthodox publications, at least the major ones, have been printed on a daily basis for many years. One may even argue that unlike the secular printed press, which is undergoing a crisis, the ultra-orthodox press is flourishing these days.

At the same time, the consumption of online content on the internet is met with reservations by the rabbinical – ultra-orthodox leadership. These leaders generally agree that internet use is prohibited, unless its use is critical for making a living, in which case it must be done with content filters. Despite the prohibition, the ultra-orthodox do consume online content, not just for livelihood but also for a range of other uses. In fact, there are several ultra-orthodox websites, with “Bechadrey Haredim”, a major news portal, being a prominent example.

The course will review the historical developments that led to the emergence of the ultra-orthodox press, first in Europe and then in Eretz Israel and the State of Israel. We will pinpoint the unique characteristics of the ultra-orthodox press, the reasons that the internet is perceived by the ultra-orthodox as a threat, and the range of ways it uses to ward it off. We will attempt to understand why the notion of the ultra-orthodox press has received the blessing of the rabbinical leadership while filtered and customized internet is met with strong objection. Finally, we will juxtapose the attributes of the reports and content of the ultra-orthodox press with those of the ultra-orthodox news websites.

Mandatory attendance.

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