by David Bedein
At a time when issues of religious worship are widely discussed in Jerusalem among all religions, the lay leadership of synagogue boards in Northern Israel have become fed up with cell phones ringing in the middle of prayer services.
As a result, they have decided to take action and have sought a permit to install cell phone jamming equipment and have sent the Israel Communications Ministry a request for it to examine the possibility of authorizing the use of equipment that disrupts cell phone reception in synagogues in Northern Israel.
The initiative was born following a request by Shlomo Burzuki, the sexton of the Yad Lebanim Synagogue in Kiryat Shmona. “I regret to say that it’s become a state-wide plague,” said Mr. Burzuki.
“In the very place where we’re supposed to connect to the Holy One Blessed Be He with a quiver in our bodies, people engage in the inanities of the world.”
Mr. Burzuki, who wanted to put an end to cell phone use in his synagogue during services, took the matter up with Ofer Cohen, chairman of the Lobby for Jewish Values.
Mr. Cohen sympathized with the sexton’s problem and said that he suffered from the same difficulty in Tiberias, where he lives.
“The situation has become insufferable,” Mr. Cohen said in a shocked tone of voice. “People come to synagogue and, instead of cleaving with the Creator, they listen to third- and fourth-generation conversations.”
Mr. Cohen drafted a petition that seeks to prevent the use of cellular telephones in synagogues.
He also submitted a request for a license from the Communication Ministry to use jamming equipment that would affect a radius of between approximately 165 and 230 feet - equipment that would be installed in synagogue prayer halls.
Such jamming equipment is often used in sensitive Israeli intelligence venues and in combat units in the Israeli army to prevent conversations from being conveyed to Hezbollah and Hamas.
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