(photo credit: REUTERS)
Apple devices are kosher, and now Samsung’s can be, too.
Samsung, in association with Israeli company Askan, debuted a “kosher” smartphone on Wednesday for ultra-Orthodox users.
Askan, which specializes in “kosher technologies,” programmed the phone with Internet filters that are designed to keep out objectionable content. In the ultra-Orthodox community, Internet providers offer similar filters suited to their customers’ demands.
“We chose Asken as a partner because the company helps the haredi society, which wants to make use of smart mobile devices, and gain access to our advanced instruments in complete conformity with their lifestyle,” said Guy Hibash, director of Samsung Israel’s enterprise division.
Their specialized operating system, built on Samsung’s Knox Customization software, will run on a variety of Samsung phones, including those in the Galaxy S6 and S7 series, and the A5 and J1 models.
The new Samsung device has been approved by Rabbi Tzvi Braverman, a respected haredi rabbinical judge from Beitar Illit, who has also developed and approved a home and business Internet filter for the ultra-Orthodox community.
However, the new smartphone has not been endorsed by the rabbinical court of Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, which is the most senior and respected body providing oversight for smartphone usage in the non-hassidic haredi community, as well as for some hassidic groups.
“There have been two approaches to the issue of smartphones among the leading haredi rabbis,” said Yisroel Cohen, a reporter for the Kikar Hashabbat haredi news site.
“The first approach has been to prohibit all smartphones, including even the filtered devices, arguing that if you allow, for instance, haredi businessmen the use of such phones you will open the door eventually to yeshiva students, and thousands of people will end up using them.”
The other perspective, said Cohen, “has been to authorize the use of limited smartphones for those who need them because the situation right now is that haredi businessmen and others are using iPhones and other devices without any protection at all.
“More and more rabbis understand now that there is a need to allow for the use of a protected smartphone, and as a result of that we’re seeing, many more people on the street are using such devices.”
Still, news of a kosher smartphone may be particularly welcome among those in the community who are trying to enter the workforce, and land high-paying jobs in hi-tech. Cohen explained that some haredim who have taken programming courses find themselves limited when they cannot take the mobile phones that they are working on home with them.