Ultra-Orthodox plan huge NYC meeting on Net risks

Associated Press Modified: May 18, 2012 at 8:01 pm •  Published: May 18, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Ultra-Orthodox Jews who believe that the Internet threatens their way of life have rented the New York Mets' stadium for an unprecedented gathering on how to use modern technology in a religiously appropriate way.

More than 40,000 ultra-Orthodox Jewish men plan to pack Citi Field for Sunday's gathering on the dangers of the Internet, and organizers have also rented the nearby Arthur Ashe Stadium for the overflow crowd.

"It's going to be inspiration and education about using technology responsibly in accordance with Jewish values," said Eytan Kobre, a lawyer who is the spokesman for the event's organizers.

Kobre said the rally's purpose is not to ban the Internet but to learn how to harness it.

"There is a very significant downside to the Internet," he said. "It does pose a challenge to us in various aspects of our lives."

He cited online pornography and gambling as well as the risk of social media undermining "our ability to pray uninterruptedly, to focus and to concentrate."

The rally is being organized by a rabbinical group called Ichud Hakehillos Letohar Hamachane, which means Union of Communities for the Purity of the Camp. Published reports have put the cost at $1.5 million. Kobre would not confirm that amount, and he said the funders prefer to remain anonymous.

Spokesmen for the Mets and for the U.S. Tennis Association did not immediately respond to phone messages seeking information about what the rally organizers were paying to rent the stadiums.

Women will not be permitted at either stadium but the rally will be broadcast live to audiences of women in schools and event halls in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. Kobre said live hookups are also being arranged elsewhere in the U.S. and internationally.

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