Thursday, October 28, 2010

Breaking the non-kosher cellphone rule

A Guest Post by Rafi G

When I first read this story, I had decided not to write about it. I didn't see it as much of a story.

The story is that various news media reported this week that 9 girls from Bais Yaakov Yashan (BJJ as it is known in English, but BJJ is really an American girls program. This incident happened in the Israeli Bais Yaakov Yashan) were caught using non-kosher cellphones. They were expelled form school as a result.

They were caught because one of the girls received an SMS during class that her friend had gotten engaged. She told her other friends, and the teacher figured out that she got the message via a non-kosher cell phone. After her phone was confiscated, the principal figured out, by going through her contact list on her phone, which other girls had non-kosher cell phones. he then threw them all out of school.

So, I wasn't going to write about it, but then Jameel wrote about it (and he's got a cute pashkevil at the end of his post), and his post made me think about it some more and I decided to write something.

I think the rules in the haredi community that are for the purpose of controlling people, be they the kosher cellphone, he forced internet filters or webchaver or no internet, or any of the other ones (read a school takanon to find some more), are all stupid.

I have no problem with an individual doing any of these things, if he chooses to do so - I dislike the community imposing it on the people. People should be treated as adults, and they should be able to choose what to do and what not to do, they should know their own weaknesses and be educated enough to find solutions to protect themselves. Society imposing it on everybody because they trust nobody to think for themselves is stupid and demeaning, in my mind.

That being said, the school has a rule, and the kids studying in that school have to follow it. If the school threw the kids out because they found the parents had non-kosher cellphones, that would be completely wrong. To throw the kids out because they themselves broke the rules is not so bad.

Throwing a kid out for breaking one rule is pretty harsh. Perhaps the phones should have been confiscated, kids suspended for a day, parents spoken to, etc. To throw them out for one infraction seems overly harsh. However, maybe they were kids who regularly break the rules, or have already been warned about this or other things. I do not support throwing them out for this, but perhaps in some universe it was warranted, for reasons we are not aware of. if this was the only infraction, it seems too harsh to me.

Jameel made a point to me, in the comments of his post, that the principal violated their privacy by searching through the contact list. I agree, but principals regularly do that if they suspect violations of rules that they consider bad. It might not be right, but I dont think the violation of their privacy changes the issue.

I tell my kids all the time, even if the issue at hand is a rule I disagree with, that as long as they are in the school they are in they have to follow the rules. While on a societal level I think the non-kosher cellphone ban is stupid, these kids broke a school rule and should be punished in some way, albeit expulsion is probably too harsh.

Search for more information about breaking stupid school rules at

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