It’s the text, stupid! Mobile phones, religious communities, and the silent threat of text messages

Hananel Rosenberg*, Menahem Blondheim, Elihu Katz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This study explores the Jewish ultra-Orthodox “kosher cellphone,” a device that can be used only for voice calls. It asks why the leadership of this highly textual community didn’t stop at blocking Internet use over the kosher cellphone and went on to block texting messages as well. Using both interviews with ultra-Orthodox anti-cellphone-activists and content analysis of online discussions among community members, the study analyzes the perception of threat that underlies the prohibition of texting, and explores how this prohibition is received in the community. The findings show that in contrast to the threat posed by improper content, which affects the external boundaries of this enclave community, blocking texting stems from a perception that the technology’s configuration threatens intra-communal monitoring and the control of the dissemination of information within the communal space. Our findings add a number of dimensions to the current understanding of the nexus of new media, social control, and isolated religious communities.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2325-2346
Number of pages22
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • Isolated communities
  • mobile phones
  • religious communities
  • text messages


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