man talking on Kosher Phone

What Is a Kosher Phone?

When you hear the term “kosher,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? Most likely, it’s the food prepared according to dietary requirements of Jewish law. While the notion of kosher food dates to the Old Testament, we also have more contemporary kosher products, including modern technology. Like a kosher phone!

What is kosher in modern technology? Well, specifically, we want to talk about the kosher phone. But what is it, and how, exactly, is a phone “kosher?”

While the origin of the kosher phone comes from Haredi Judaism, it also found its way to other communities. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about these phone.

A Bit of Backstory First

Book hands wooden table

To understand the necessity and relevance of the kosher phone, it’s essential to explore what prompted the development of this particular type of device. The idea of a kosher phone originates from the Haredi Jewish community.

The term “Haredi” is a Biblical word that translates to “God-fearing.” Members of the Haredi community are known for their strict adherence to Jewish law and traditions. They reject most modern values and practices, as well as societal changes.

Probably the most straightforward example of this doctrine in modern elements can be seen in their relationship with technology. Let’s face it, in the era of the internet; it can be pretty challenging to decide what’s considered appropriate.

Therefore, the Haredi leaders enforced a ban on any internet-capable devices. The reasoning was that the immense quantities of unfiltered and inappropriate information could be damaging to the community.

How Does the Kosher Phone Fit In?

Man talking on Kosher Phone

The Haredi ban on internet use has had an impact on the world of technology. Some Jewish businesspeople still need to use a mobile phone to conduct business with those business associates outside of their faith and community.

The rejection of the internet is not a rejection of technology itself. There is nothing wrong, per se, with a cellphone. As the idea of using a technological device only for talking didn’t seem outright problematic, the concept of a phone being kosher was introduced.

In many ways, the kosher cellphone is a compromise between modern technology and adhering to the principles of Jewish law.

The Two Types of Kosher Phone

Kosher phone in hand open top view

All Kosher-ized Phones fall into two major broad categories.

  • The first is what you would consider the basic kosher phone, either a flip top or one with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. This type of Kosher Phone was made without ever having the ability to connect to the internet.
  • The second type of kosher phone is just a regular smartphone that received a customized “hardware update” which installed filters that control the internet use.

Let’s take a closer look at both types of phone.

The Basic Kosher Phone

Turned on Kosher Phone in hand

Typically, the basic kosher phone is a Nokia, LG, Alcatel, or any other brand of flip or slide-out cellphone you can get on the market today. The significant difference being that these phones have been altered to accommodate the needs of the intended user.

Basic kosher phones don’t have access to the internet, radio, apps, camera, can’t play video or audio, and usually don’t even have texting abilities. This is a phone for making calls and nothing more.

As you might imagine, using a phone in this way ensures the battery lasts longer, and phone plans are cheaper. Plus, the devices are also much more affordable than your average smartphone. A bonus of these types of kosher phones is that they’re safe to give to children.

Some kosher phones also receive a holographic sticker, often placed across the phone’s camera. That signifies that Haredi leaders approved the cellphone and that it fits the description of a basic kosher cellphone.

The Updated Kosher Smartphone (Hardware Filter)

man around trees holding phone taking photo

While some Jewish religious groups will only use the most basic kosher phone, others accept the idea of kosher smartphones.

This type of smartphone is rooted, and most (but not all) of the internet functionality is disabled. Social media and browsing apps are filtered. Usually, these are simple smartphones by Samsung or another brand that supports the Android operating system.

The smartphones are modified so that only specific apps can be used, such as grocery shopping apps, Waze, banking services, or Jewish databases. Of course, these phones are for making calls more than anything else.

What Is a Kosher Phone Plan?

Kosher phone open top view on grass

Given that kosher phones exist, it’s only natural to ask whether a kosher cellphone plan exists as well. In Israel, these plans are offered by phone companies and tend to be inexpensive, which is expected.

However, in the U.S., there is no designated kosher phone plan. Kosher phone users can subscribe to a cellphone plan without any cellular data available.

They’ll only be able to use it for calls, as all the internet and texting features have been disabled on the device.

Are Kosher Phones Only for the Jewish Community?

People posing with sunset

We’ve reached the point where the very term “kosher” offers a broader meaning than what it traditionally does. In many ways, “kosher” stands for “proper” or “lawful,” and with those meanings, kosher phones can have a place in other conservative communities as well.

But taking it even a step further than that, the kosher phone has found consumers among other demographics too.

The kosher phone industry is booming in many ways, and there might be several reasons. So, who else can benefit from a phone that only makes calls?

People Trying to Get Offline

Kosher phone closed top view on concrete

How often do you feel like you need to unplug? The way the world operates these days, that may seem like an impossible task.

Even if you don’t want a lifestyle change, perhaps you only want a simple phone to make calls when you’re traveling.

Rather than disabling dozens of functions on your smartphone only to enable them halfway through your vacation, a kosher cellphone is a solid alternative.

People Who Want Simplicity

Close top view of Kosher phone on concrete

In terms of ease of use, nothing beats a kosher phone. There are no complicated menus, multiple functions, or anything else that might be confusing.

If you don’t have a smartphone or even a flip phone with an internet connection, kosher phones are a viable solution.

Senior Citizens Uncomfortable With Technology

Open top view of Kosher phone on concrete

It’s perfectly understandable when an older person is reluctant to use a smartphone. The many features can often be overwhelming for them.

Rather than not having a phone or being reluctant to use the phone when they need it, it’s better to have something they won’t be hesitant to reach for. Kosher phones are perfect for senior citizens, as they can easily dial and make phone calls.

People Who Want an Emergency Only Phone

phone dialing 911

Another reason why someone might appreciate having a kosher cellphone is in case of an emergency. Some people don’t want to use a mobile phone daily but want to have one ready and charged in case they need it.

Smartphones are not the ideal solution for this purpose, but kosher phones are. If the only function you ever need in a cellphone is voice calling, having a kosher cellphone as the emergency communication device can be the right choice.

People With Children

young boy using phone

Many parents understandably want to wait as long as possible before they purchase a smartphone for their children.

At the same time, they see the value of reaching their children when they’re not at home. The compromise between these two opposing tendencies is the kosher phone.

There’s no internet access, no texting, yet they can always reach their child and make sure they’re safe.

Should You Get a Kosher Phone?

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When it comes to cellphone features, a kosher phone is as basic as it gets, even when we’re talking about the kosher smartphone.

For the members of the Haredi Jewish community, these phones provide the minimum of features, as their religious guidelines demand. However, even if you’re outside of this community, you might see the advantage of using a mobile phone with the ability for voice calls only.

Check out the kosher phones offers Mr Aberthon and see which one suits your needs best. More devices will be added soon.

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