Apples are kosher, and now Samsungs can be too.
The smartphone manufacturer, in association with Israeli company Askan, debuted a “kosher’ smartphone on Wednesday for ultra-Orthodox users.
Askan, which specializes in “kosher technologies,” programmed the phone with Internet filters that are designed to keep objectionable content at bay.
In the ultra-Orthodox community, Internet providers offer similar filters to allow them to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge on the Internet.
“We chose Asken as a partner because the company give help the haredi society, which wants to make use of smart mobile devices, gain access to our advanced instruments in complete conformity with their lifestyle,” said Guy Hibash, director of Samsung Israel’s enterprise division.
Their specialized operating system, built on Samsung’s Knox Customization software, will run on a variety of Samsung phones, including those in the Galaxy S7 series, S6 series, and the A5 and J1 models.
The new Samsung device has been approved by Rabbi Tzvi Braverman, a respected haredi rabbinical judge from Beitar Illit, who has also developed and approved a home and business internet filter for the haredi community.
The new smartphone has not been endorsed however by the rabbinical court of Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, which is the most senior and respected body providing oversight for smartphone usage in the non-hassidic haredi community, as well as for some hassidic groups.
“There have been two approaches to the issue of smartphones among the leading haredi rabbis,” said Yisroel Cohen, a reporter for the Kikar Hashabbat haredi news site.
“The first approach has been to prohibit all smartphones, including even the restricted devices, arguing that if you allow, for instance, haredi businessmen the use of such phones you will open the door eventually to even yeshiva students, and thousands of people will end up using them.
The other perspective, said Cohen, has been to authorize the use of limited smartphones for those who need them because the situation right now is that haredi businessmen and others are using iPhones and other devices without any protection at all.
“More and more rabbis understand now that there is a need to allow for the use of a protected smartphone, and as a result of that we’re seeing many more people on the street using such devices.”
Still, news of a kosher smart phone may be particularly welcome among those in the community who are trying to enter the work force, and find good-paying jobs in high tech. Some haredim who have taken programming courses find themselves limited when they cannot take the mobile phones that they are programming home with them.