Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Agudah on Blogs III

R. Gershon Tannenbaum, in his column in The Jewish Press, discusses the Agudah convention in an excessively laudatory fashion. Most puzzling is R. Tannenbaum's statement that The Jewish Press devotes space to "countering and exposing the fallacies and deliberate misinterpretations" found on the internet. The newspaper has had bloggers (including me) write for them and even reprinted a few blog posts almost verbatim (with permission, of course). Also missing is that the newspaper itself was condemned by R. Zwiebel in his speech at the convention. I should add that, by my estimate, there were maybe eight hundred to a thousand people in attendance on Thursday night, and not thousands (link to article):

Agudah Convention Breaks Ground

Thousands gathered at the Sheraton Stamford Hotel in Stamford, Conn., to participate in the Agudah’s 84th annual convention during the Thanksgiving weekend. Keynote sessions took place on Thursday night and Motzaei Shabbos. To convey the magnitude of the inspiration and introspection that the convention imparts is impossible within the confines of a newspaper column. Serving as a directional event for observant Jewry, what is said at the annual Agudah convention resonates loudly and always commands the attention of rabbis and intellectuals around the globe.

In The Jewish Press

An issue that is continually addressed within the pages of The Jewish Press is that of the Internet and its reporting and delivery of many divergent opinions. Whole columns in The Jewish Press by astute writers are devoted to countering and exposing the fallacies and deliberate misinterpretations presented by known entities, as well as anonymous writers.

The observant community has little tolerance for such calculated deviations from the truth. The yeshiva community in Lakewood has literally banished the Internet from its private homes and rigidly limited its use in business. Home businesses within the yeshiva community in Lakewood need specific consent from the community’s dayanim for Internet use.

Grappling With The Internet

The Agudah has been wrestling with the Internet issue since its introduction. While various rabbinical organizations had endorsed business usage of the Internet through filtering services, the Agudah maintained its prohibition of it, while continuously reviewing its position. Several meetings were set up through the years by the Agudah to review the threat of the Internet and its inroads into the observant community. At an Agudah meeting in September, 2003, a report of Internet usage within observant communities revealed that in Boro Park, Flatbush, and Williamsburg, more than 90 percent of the homes in each community were hooked up to the Internet.

Breaking New Ground

At the Thursday night plenary session of this year’s convention, Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Rosh Yeshiva Maor Yitzchok; Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudah vice president; and Rabbi Mattisyahu Salomon, mashgiach of Beth Medrash Govoha, focused their attention on participants of Internet discussions. The highly respected speakers called upon them to apply the same demeanor and respect on the Internet as they would in a beis midrash. The directives literally were ice-breaking, bringing the Agudah to deal with prevailing realities of the Internet.
And here is the European Yated's publication of an Agudah press release about the convention (with minor changes to make the wording more yeshivish -- link).

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