Discount chain Rami Levy on Thursday announced that for the first time in
Israel, it will sell smartphones oriented toward the ultra-Orthodox
The phone, expected to hit the shelves on Tuesday, is a
modified Nexus 4, which is able to make phone calls and send text messages, but
has limited Web browser capabilities.
It will provide access to
preapproved “kosher” applications, such as those offered by government
ministries, banks and health funds, as well as navigation applications such as
Waze and communications applications such as WhatsApp.
haredi-friendly smartphone, developed in consultation with religious leaders,
hopes to follow in the footsteps of other “kosher” cellular phones, widely used
in the community, that restrict access to potentially religiously problematic
“There’s no Google. That says it all,” a Rami Levy spokesman
The advent of a religiously acceptable smartphone could be a boon
to ultra-Orthodox businessmen who are barred from accessing the same realtime
conveniences a smartphone offers that competitors have.
Rami Levy expects
to sell as many as 50,000 units within a year, and will offer trade-in deals for
those already harboring smart phones, either in secret or out of business
necessity when there were no better alternatives.
The modified phone is
targeted toward the pragmatic, business-oriented side of the community, and may
not meet the standards of the more extreme haredi factions.
Last year, a
leading haredi rabbi, Haim Kanievsky, published a pronouncement on the front
page of Yated Ne’eman, an influential haredi newspaper, forbidding the use of
iPhones. With its Internet connection and access to corrupting information, the
device had the destructive potential of a weapon of war, he wrote.
the same time, Bnei Brak rabbi Lior Glazer ceremoniously smashed an iPhone 5
with a hammer, calling it an “impure” device, and condemning any of its owners
as “an abomination.”