Rabbi Ariel: No Phones On in Synagogue – Period
Cell phones should not be left on in synagogue during daily prayers, even on “silent” mode, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel has declared, speaking to Arutz Sheva.
Rabbi Ariel, Rabbi of the city of Ramat Gan, explained that any phone that has not been turned off can be a distraction. A phone that is allowed to ring audibly distracts many worshipers, he said, and even a silent phone can distract its owner.
“Phones should not be left on even on vibrate. It distracts the person who is praying from his prayer,” he said.
Being temporarily cut off from the outside world is a necessary part of prayer, he said. “There must be no idle conversations in a synagogue,” he noted.
He also warned against being distracted from prayer by the many weekly pamphlets on Torah topics ("alonei Shabbat") that are distributed in synagogues.
“People are turning synagogue into a reading club. This is not what a synagogue should look like. This is a desecration of G-d’s name,” he warned.
There is nothing wrong with Torah pamphlets, he clarified, but they should be read after prayers, not during.