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Jun 17, 2014

become a card-carrying member of the Haredi community

you can now become a card-carrying member of the Haredi community, should you want to.

All it will take is to go to your rabbi, get approved for a certain level of filtered internet, based on your parnassa needs, get some sort of letter confirming that the only Internet access you have, if any at all, is the type approved by the rabbi, fill out some form and send it in to some office with confirmations of the rabbi, and they will send to you your Haredi-membership card. Your name will also appear on lists of member names that will be publicized around town occasionally.

Oh - and, you have to live in Bet Shemesh. For now, this initiative has been created in Bet Shemesh. Perhaps it will expand to other cities as well, but for now it is exclusive to Bet Shemesh.

In a new program called "Chaver", askanim are offering the solution to the problems of non-kosher Internet. Today pamphlets, about 60 or so pages long, were distributed around the Haredi neighborhoods of Bet Shemesh promoting the new initiative.

About 50 or so of the pages in the pamphlet are filled with  letters of support from rabbonim around town, with the remaining pages left for describing the program.

The program will operate as I described above. In an interview in the pamphlet, they describe how it came to be and how it works and all that.. A couple of interesting points from the pamphlet:
 * they say the idea is not to force anybody, but people will choose to be a member of the community by doing this, or not. Similar to how it used to be with maaser - ignoramuses did not give maaser, and there was no way to force someone to and ensure that he does. Anybody who wanted to be above suspicion, joined a group and became known as a chaver who gave his maaser. Same here - whoever wants to be known as Haredi beyond any question, besides for the general description of dress code and affiliation with Haredi schools and shuls, he will become a chaver - a member, and the public will know.

 * despite saying that they are not forcing anyone to join and become a member, they readily admit that the purpose of this is to create peer pressure - though nobody is being forced.

 * there is not really anything to do with the membership card that you will receive by joining. If you want you can hang it in your living room or stick it in a drawer. The more important thing will be the lists of membership names that will be publicized around town.

 * they say they are not working with school administrators and are not telling them to require membership in this program, that being membership in the Haredi community, for registration of children in schools. However, they see it as a natural next step that school administrators will at some point create such a requirement and will either confirm membership with the organizers or use the published lists of membership rolls to confirm membership of families before allowing kids to learn in said institutions.... as well, parents will be able to use the pblished lists to decide if the child can go to a friends house to play or not.

 * in recent years it has become increasingly difficult to determine who is really living a haredi lifestyle of spirituality and holiness and who is liberal but just dresses the part and calls himself haredi. We can't have anybody who wants calling themselves haredi. We have to create a separation.

 * the letters from rabbonim supporting the initiative range all the way from Eida rabbis on one end all the way to rabbis of American-haredi communities at the other end...

Groucho Marx once said, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member"...

something like this, becoming a card-carrying member of the haredi community, could only start off in a town like Bet Shemesh...

here are the images of a few random pages of the pamphlet...  thanks to comenter dlz, even if you didnt receive the pamphlet yourself you can see the pdf of it online at Radio Kol Hai's website

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  1. Is there a version available online? I would love to see it

    1. besides for the irony of the question.. I havent seen one..

      I considered scanning it, but then the thought of scanning and uploading 50-60 pages was too daunting and I quickly scrapped the idea.

    2. Online version:

  2. I just took some pictures of a few random pages and am uploading them now to the post... though I see dlz found the full pdf...

  3. Read R' CZM's haskomo carefully. Either he wasn't told the full story or he's carefully approving of some parts of the plan and not others. (FWIW I vote 1)

  4. Beis Shemesh, the Yekkes called, they want their title back.

  5. It's incredible that they found some people to fund this. I've been to fundraisers of different types, and I find it hard to believe that they managed to hit up some wealthy people to back this. Even if it is just one guy making it all up, and adraba, if it is more people who had to visit all the rabbis, put together the graphic design, print out the booklet and posters, and then distribute them and paste them up.

    1. from what I have been told, a "minor" (I dont mean minor in greatness - I have no idea how great he is, but minor in size of hassidus) hassidic rebbe is behind this program and he has it funded by a few of his followers abroad...

      I would also guess that eventually membership fees will kick in, even if they are not saying it now.


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