What’s a Kosher phone?

What’s a Kosher phone?

A reader asked: What’s a kosher phone?

Answer —

The question reminds me of an old cartoon of mine:

But don’t be too hard on yourself if you assume that a kosher phone is something like this. I’m sure that’s something too.

But in contemporary Hasidic parlance, kosher phones are phones that have been restricted in some ways, so as to ensure that they don’t provide access to various apps and sites that are considered problematic. Some kosher phones might be modified smartphones, like the following: This smartphone has Waze, camera, calendar, weather, and the “Seal of Trust.” Although it is very restricted, with few apps and no browser, it is still a rather advanced phone.

But the kosher phone I have is one of the most restrictive phones. It is a flip phone. The original device is the LG VX5500, which was released in 2008. It comes with talk, text, camera and, I believe, a browser. The unmodified phone can be bought on Ebay for $20.


Here is the kosher version. It’s listed on Venishmartem, a website for recommending internet solutions for Orthodox Jews, as follows:

Some of the features:

1. It has a symbol of kosher supervision.

2. The symbol sits on the camera eye, so the camera is disabled.

3. Where the messaging features should be, we have various shapes.

If you click on them, you are told they are disabled:

(here is the unedited version of the LG’s messaging feature)

4. Whatever features used to be at the first tab, they’re now named “colors,” and various color options are available. If you click blue, you have several shades of blue to choose from. Then you hit the dead end again.

In other words, the only features that work are phones, contacts and settings. As simple as a flip phone can get.

Naturally, the resistance to texting and internet spurned a whole industry in phone news and phone information. I remember as a child we used to call “800-tellme,” before that was discontinued and replaced by the web. Within the Hasidic community, a thriving industry of hotlines cropped up, and serve as ways to get instant information without having internet access. I am guessing that this is why we see so many people walking around with their phones on their ears. Most of them aren’t even talking. They are probably just doing the equivalent of the subway full of riders with their eyes glued to their screens, only here it is ears.


What’s a Kosher Phone? Part 2

State of the Art Tech: Kosher phone vending machine!

This smartphone war is directed especially at women

Kosher cameras, mp3s, gameboys, ipods, etc.

  • Abby Goldsmith
    Posted at 23:54h, 20 May Reply

    Your blog posts are really interesting and insightful. I’m enjoying your site a lot. I think you think like I think.

    • Frieda Vizel
      Posted at 19:09h, 21 May Reply

      Abby, I don’t know if you’ll see my comment, but I checked out your website and you seem to be doing the things I love most: illustration and writing. Are the illustrations on your site yours? I love them. I dream of waking up with such talent! Now I will have to check out your fiction!

  • Estelle weiner
    Posted at 11:01h, 25 June Reply

    Wud like to order an advanced kosher phone

    Posted at 18:01h, 07 August Reply

    […] On technology and kosher phones […]

  • State of the Art Tech: Kosher phone vending machine! - Frieda Vizel
    Posted at 07:29h, 16 August Reply

    […] so incredibly unusual. It sells, yes, kosher phones! I’ve explained what kosher phones are here and here, but to put it briefly, they are modified, internet-disabled […]

  • What’s a Kosher Phone? Part 2 - Frieda Vizel
    Posted at 17:41h, 02 September Reply

    […] of my most popular posts on this blog is the one that explains what a kosher phone is. And anyone who follows my work or comes on my tour knows that I have a particular fascination with […]

  • Boruch
    Posted at 11:24h, 15 October Reply

    Great article on kosher phones! We just started selling Kosher phones on our website and you really covered the topic well.

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