December 20, 2010

A New “Kosher Internet” May Open New Doors for Kosher

Almost from its inception, the Internet has been ruled off limits by leading charedi rabbis in Israel and the US. The edict was designed to protect the community from some of the “destructive influences” of the Internet. An exception was made for people who required the Internet for business. The edict meant that many homes did not own a computer or if they did they did not have on-line capacity. This also extended to cellophanes with internet access, which gave rise to the “kosher” cell phone. But that is about to change as the Matzavnet Jewish Network is scheduled to be launched on October 12th. The new network, which is endorsed by leading rabbis in the US, is affiliated with Matzav.com, which is associated with the Yated Ne’eman weekly paper. For $34.99 a month, subscribers will be able to receive high speed DSL, wireless modem and router. If it takes off, it may potentially involve more than 100,000 households, a source told me. It should spell good news for many kosher purveyors whose websites will no doubt be approved by Matzav. It will also be good news for the on-line kosher supermarkets such as the newly expanded kosher.com.

Observers expect that the new network will still face considerable opposition by some charedi sources. Others see it as the (anti-Internet) “wall that came crumbling down,” opening the door to many new charedi websites. Some kosher sources say that the new network may add some surfers but that the community “was already plugged in” to the Internet. They point to the popularity of the Orthodox bogs and the many comments that the sites inspire, mostly from charedi homes. I am delighted with this new development since it is a recognition of the power of the Internet to deliver kosher messages. It bodes well for the kosher community which is increasingly using the Internet to educate its customer base about its products. It may very well be that many of the people who will subscribe to the new service had some form of access anyway (perhaps at work) but increased home use can only mean that better days are ahead for the kosher community.