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40,000 turn out for haredi Orthodox rally on Internet

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NEW YORK (JTA) —  Haredi Orthodox rabbis issued grave warnings about the dangers of the Internet to a sellout crowd at Citi Field in New York.

Speaking Sunday to the audience of 40,000 men, almost all wearing black hats, one speaker compared the threat of the Internet to the dangers that Zionism and the European Enlightenment posed in the past to traditional Jewish life. In particular, they decried the Internet’s potential to distract yeshiva students.

Several rabbis said that Jewish law forbids Jews from browsing the Internet without a filter that blocks inappropriate sites.

"The Internet even with a filter is a minefield of immorality," Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman told the crowd at the Queens home of the New York Mets. "This issue is the test of the generation. Your strength at this gathering will determine what Judaism will look like a few years from now."

A haredi Orthodox group called Ichud HaKehillos L’Tohar Hamachane, or Union of Communities for Purity of the Camp, organized the rally.

About 50 people protested the event across the street from the stadium. Many of the protesters came from Footsteps, a New York-based organization that helps people who leave haredi Orthodox life to integrate into non-haredi society.

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