Sisterhood Blog

Kosher Phones Block Rape Crisis Hotline

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share
Thinkstock

We can now add something else to the long list of things that are not kosher enough for the Haredi authorities in Israel: rape crisis and mental health hotlines.

If you are the victim of sexual abuse or are having an emotional crisis and have signed up for your cell phone service’s “kosher” plan, then you’re don’t expect to be able to anonymously reach out toll-free for help. According to an investigative report by Ynet, a body called the Rabbinical Committee for Communications has threatened to hurt mobile service providers’ business if they do not block the ability to dial these hotlines on “kosher” phones. It seems that so far, the providers have acquiesced to the rabbis’ demands.

The user of a regular cell phone (one that has not subscribed to a kosher plan) can dial toll free to the rape crisis center (1202 for women, 1203 for men) and to the ERAN emotional first-aid hotline, as well as to the country’s other emergency numbers (police, fire, ambulance, etc.). Kosher phones allow calls to the other emergency numbers, but block ones to the hotlines.

The religious authorities are getting away with this because of a loophole in a law enacted by the Knesset in March 2012. The law states that calls made to all emergency numbers, including the rape and emotional crisis hotlines, are to be toll free and must not appear on phones’ call logs (to protect callers’ privacy). The problem is that the Communications Ministry is in charge of enforcing the law, and it allows the Rabbinical Committee for Communications to dictate what numbers should be blocked on kosher phones.

“What next?” asked an angry Haredi kosher phone user. “Tomorrow they’ll tell me I can’t call Magen David Adom, but only a Haredi rescue organization? There is a reason why these are emergency numbers, and it’s unthinkable that the State of Israel as a governmental body lends a hand to such blatant blocking.”

ERAN’s CEO is fully aware of the situation, but says his hands are tied. In the meantime, the organization has provided an alternative phone number for kosher phone users to call if they are in distress. The alternative numbers are not toll free.

Apparently, the Communications Ministry is looking in to the matter.

If you’ve been reading all the recent reports about sexual abuse in the Orthodox community — both in Israel and also in America — then you know that there is no time to be spared in unblocking these hotline numbers.

With their perverted thinking, these Haredi leaders are hurting the very people they purport to be protecting. People are suffering behind the walls that these leaders are building higher and higher, thicker and thicker between the Haredi community and the rest of Israeli society.

It’s one thing to put extreme pressure on Haredi women (and men) to dress ultra-modestly, even in the blistering summer heat. It’s quite another to bar a victim of abuse or rape, or someone suffering psychologically, from quickly and confidentially reaching out beyond their immediate community for help.

This latter kind of cover up should be unacceptable to all of us, no matter how long or short the clothes we wear.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: tech, sisterhood, kosher phone, jewish women

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.