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!
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • How did Tariq Abu Khdeir go from fun-loving Palestinian-American teen to international icon in just a few short weeks? http://jd.fo/d4kkV
  • 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.