Two large “shtibel”-style synagogues were shut down this weekend as members of the Gur Hasidic sect rebelled against new regulations regarding cellular phones and internet usage, BeHadrei Haredim reported on Sunday.
Last Tuesday a special “Emergency Meeting” was held in Jerusalem to rule on a number of technology-related questions, including the use of popular cell phone applications like the Whatsapp messaging service.
Among the new regulations adopted during the meeting, which drew thousands of Gur Hasidim, were strict limits on the usage of the Whatsapp application, and new rules on which cell phone services are permissible, with certain dispensations given for work-related needs.
But some within Gur have openly rejected the new rules, flaunting their continued use of newly forbidden devices at synagogues associated with the Hasidic sect.
Despite new dictates forbidding the use of internet-capable cell phones – particularly in or around synagogues – a number of Gur Hasidim have continued to use devices with filtered internet, what are sometimes referred to as “Kosher smartphones”.
Their refusal to switch to the approved cell phone provider, Delta Mobile, and their conspicuous usage of forbidden devices in and around places of worship led to the closure of at least two synagogues.
Both the Abarbanel Shtibel in Bnei Brak and Beit HaHasidim Shtibel in Ashdod were shut down on Friday and Saturday. Those managing the synagogues noted that strict orders were given at last week’s conference, and that a number of congregants had been seen openly violating the rules concerning cell phone use.