40,000 +/- Ultra-Orthodox Jews Rally to Discuss Risks of Internet at Citi Field.
More Than 40,000 Orthodox Jews To Pack Citi Field Sunday For Internet Protest
More than 40,000 ultra-Orthodox Jewish menplan to pack Citi Field for a gathering on how to use modern technology in a religiously-appropriate way.
Organizers have also rented the nearby Arthur Ashe Stadium for the overflow crowd.
It was an incongruous sight for a baseball stadium: tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men, all dressed in black suits and white shirts, filing through the gates of Citi Field on Sunday, wearing not blue-and-orange Mets caps but tall, big-brim black hats.
There was no ballgame scheduled, only a religious rally to discuss the dangers of the Internet.
More than 40,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews were expected to attend — a sellout in a season where the average attendance at a Mets game has been barely half that. The organizers had to rent Arthur Ashe Stadium nearby, which has 20,000 seats, to accommodate all the interested ticket buyers.
The organizers had allowed only men to buy tickets, in keeping with ultra-Orthodox tradition of separating the sexes. Viewing parties had been arranged in Orthodox neighborhoods of Brooklyn and New Jersey so that women could watch, too.
For the attendees, many of whom said they came at the instructions of their rabbis, it was a chance to hear about a moral topic considered gravely important in their community: the potential problems that can stem from access to pornography and other explicit content on the uncensored, often incendiary Web.
On a No. 7 train headed toward the stadium, several men wearing the clothing of the ultra-Orthodox whipped out smartphones as soon as the subway emerged from the East River tunnel, poking at e-mail in-boxes and checking voice mail messages.
Several opponents of the rally gathered outside the stadium, including a crowd that stood by police barricades holding signs that read, “The Internet Is Not the Problem.”
Many of the protesters said they shared the religious beliefs of the attendees but wanted to show support for victims of child sexual abuse, some of whom in ultra-Orthodox communities have been discouraged from calling the police and have been shunned after the crimes against them were reported.
The rally in Citi Field on Sunday was sponsored by a rabbinical group, Ichud Hakehillos Letohar Hamachane, that is linked to a software company that sells Internet filtering software to Orthodox Jews. Those in attendance were handed fliers that advertised services like a “kosher GPS App” for iPhone and Android phones, which helps users locate synagogues and kosher restaurants.
Nat Levy, 25, who traveled from Lakewood, N.J., to attend, said he frequently surfed the Web at a cafe, overseen by a local rabbi, that filtered out certain types of online content and monitored which Web sites he visited.
He said he often used the Internet to deal with customers for his company. “You get to do business the same way,” he said. “I have unlimited access, but it’s done in a kosher manner.”MORE thank you battleskin88
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