1. says

    I don’t get it. How exactly are text messages supposed to induce the faithful Jews over to Satan’s side?

    And, by the way, I love the idea of a “kosher” cell phone. Religious people say the darndest things!

  2. phat says

    I’m getting really tired of this. I’m 36 and I’ve probably got another 40 years to deal with these people.


  3. gg says

    My phone is a tool of Satan? And here I thought that my phone was hot to the touch on use because of a faulty battery…

  4. Tom says

    God has always run a wireless service :-) Seriously though, I think they’ve inadvertantly found a good market. I’d buy one, but not because of the kosher nonsense. I like minimalist products that do the bare minimum.

  5. Eric Juve says

    All the god stuff aside, I too would like a cell phone that was simply a phone. It should have a screen that is readble in sunlight, a human interface that makes sense without 5 levels of menus…

    I must be getting ancient

  6. Sonja says

    If you’ve ever been invited to dinner by a friend who then proceeds to talk on her cell phone throughout the entire meal, you will believe that cell phones are evil (and the people who don’t know when it is appropriate to use them are indeed the spawns of Satan).

  7. Mena says

    I agree with the minimalist phone comments. I really don’t have any interest in taking really bad photos (can’t they improve that?) that can’t be saved easily, text messaging rather than calling because I don’t have the extra time to keep pushing buttons, and most of that other stuff. I put my mother on my plan because she is handicapped and has taken a few bad falls and I want her to be able to call for help if she is home alone and needs it. She doesn’t use that stuff either but yet we are expected to pay for a phone with a bunch of stuff that we will never use and for minutes we will never use. There aren’t any plans that allow you to have two phones with less than 700 minutes. We are lucky if we use half that. All I really want in a cell phone is to have an extension, which seems like an impossible dream. There needs to be a company that caters to people who don’t exist to talk on the phone!

  8. speedwell says

    Count me into the ranks of those who want a no-hassle phone on a cheap program for just calling already! And I think the motofone is adorable in all its minimalist, pared-down class.

  9. Carlie says

    Perhaps it’s a bit ironic given the godiness of the conversation, but the most stripped-down phone for a low price that I found was, ahem, Virgin. I only take it with me when on long car trips etc, and keep it topped up for about 20 bucks a quarter. Or something like that, anyway.

  10. Sarcastro says

    Yea, this isn’t a religious thing at all. Some folks just want a phone.

    Star Trek has promised us, for nigh unto 40 years now, that in the future we’d have computers we talk to. What did we really get? Telephones you type on.

  11. Will Von Wizzlepig says

    No matter what the reasoning, I can completely get behind a phone which does nothing but make and receive calls. Having worked in support, I hear older people, and they are saying: we can’t figure this thing out.

    I am a gadget freak, technophile, whatever word describes the boy who spent his allowance down at Radio Shack on a regular basis…

    …however, when I buy something, I want it to do what it’s supposed to, and do it well. As you might suspect, I am let down quite frequently.

    Cell phones today are perfect examples of feature bloat where many/most of them don’t work well, and what’s more, they confuse older people, which translates out to more home tech support work for me. My parents regularly violate their TOS with their support provider (me) and buy some piece feature-bloat piece of hardware or software which I then end up supporting.

  12. Steve_C says

    The last thing I want to do is talk to my computer. I’m an art director in a cluster of art directors… imagine us all talking to our computers at one?

    It would sound like a nightmare version of Knightrider.


    “Yes Art Director.”

    “Font. Neutra Display bold.”


    “Damn it Steve! You just screwed up my layout!”

    It’s like the reverse of movie computers that make a “boop” and “beep” with every click.

  13. says

    “Choosing a religious phone is one way a person who gives high salience to his or her religious identity can assert that importance in a public way”

    Isn’t pride supposed to be a sin?

  14. says

    I think phones are full of a lot of crap that I don’t need, as well, but that’s the way marketing goes in America. All I want is a phone that stores numbers and calls when I tell it to and answers when I want it to.

    Adhering to Kosher restrictions is something that I am glad I don’t have to do, y’know? I can eat any kind of hot dog that I want, I can answer the phone on Saturdays if I want. I could pitch on Yom Kippur if my team needed me in a World Series game.

  15. says

    Caveat: I don’t even own a cellphone, but if I were to get one, I’d probably want one like these stripped-down ones. All those extra services are expensive here; my sister said she used her phone to go on the internet for about five minutes, and got a bill for fourteen dollars. I don’t need that; I have a laptop with a Wi-Fi card, and public open-access networks are free. I don’t need a camera in my phone (and camera phones are prohibited a lot of places). I think Rabbi Burstyn stumbled on a good idea for a strange reason.

    That said, of all the weird things religious people do, this has to be one of the most harmless, so since it’s not actually hurting anyone and might in fact help a lot of people, I’m inclined to let it slide.

  16. Jason says


    If you can get out of your plan without a big penalty, you might be better off just getting two basic phones on a pay-as-you-go plan, one for you and one for your mother.

  17. James says

    As has been said above, it isn’t only those in the Jewish faith who want a stripped down phone. Heck, I have features on my current cell phone that I’m never going to use as I don’t know how they will affect my phone bill. I’m perfectly happy with a cell that has speakerphone capability.

    Methinks dude underestimates his market much.

  18. Steve_C says

    Most extra features on phones are primarily based on software.
    Those features don’t affect the quality of reception of the phone.
    Fewer features don’t make it work better as a phone. What the plastics
    and metals a phone is made of do as well as signal strength of the towers.

    I can’t stand Motorola’s interface. Samsungs and Nokias function more intuitively.
    I think phone interfaces for the most part suck and that’s what frustrates users.

  19. Steve Watson says

    Agreee with all the minimalists — hi-tech gadgets are the marketeers ultimate wet dream of planned obsolescence. Always a new feature (usually with marginal utility but high pizzazz) available to separate suckers from their money.

  20. Ecrasez l'infame says

    Wouldn’t it be a hoot to call some of these religiosos up on their “godly” cellphones, and pretend to be Mr. Big Himself?

    “Put down that crystal meth, and back away from the boy’s behind, Pastor” [in your best Donald Hayne voice of God]

  21. Pygmy Loris says

    I understand the desire for a minimalist phone, but everyone I know upgrades all the time. Sometimes you get a little phone envy, but it goes away.

    As for what I have, my phone makes calls and has text messaging and a button labeled “web” that I believe I have to purchase extra service for. Other than that, it doesn’t take photos (nor does it receive photos,) has one ring tone and doesn’t do much else. Did I mention it’s three years old too? If you choose the free one, like me, they’re oftentimes no so fancy as the discounted phones.

    All that being said, the iPhone looks really cool, but there’s no way I’m spending $500 on a phone.

  22. wrg says

    Taking advice on telephones from your rabbi reminds me of the Simpsons episode where a rabbi is asked for advice about everything from marriage to choosing a car. Apparently the former is not intentionally a joke.

    I don’t really know or care about most of what my phone does, though it isn’t much since I did care about what I paid for it. I’m doing fine with a prepaid plan where, as long as I was willing to put down $100 initially, I can keep unused time for up to a year and have a decent rate per minute. For those on this thread who don’t need a lot of talking time, looking into prepaid rates may be a good idea. My initial $100 lasted me nearly the whole year, while I can’t think of many monthly plans under $15 or $20 per month.

    I don’t know of many comparably reasonable deals back home in Canada, though.

  23. Steve_C says

    If I get an iPhone I’m waiting until the price drops. But I’ve been looking to get an new iPod for a couple of years too. So considering it combines the two $500 isn’t completely out of the question. Also the at&t/Cingular plan is more than my current carrier T-mobile.

  24. Mena says

    Jason, that’s what I was thinking too. After looking at this post I did a bit of research. It seems like EVERY company has it where if you need two phones you need to pay $60 for 700 minutes. Add $20/month+ in taxes every month to that and it gets downright idiotic to have these things. I did find one for 550 minutes but it was $10 more! Someone needs to start a company that offers basic phones with basic service. Even a tech junkie like me has no use for what is available now and, from the size of this thread, there seems to be a lot of that sentiment out there.

  25. kurage says

    Just voicing a little more support for the “minimalist phone for secular reasons” platform. When I want to enjoy all the wonderful godless entertainment on television and the internet, I’ll do it on a screen that’s bigger than my driver’s license, thank you very much. And in the meantime, I’d like a mobile communications device that doesn’t remind me of a pocket-sized HAL.

  26. JohnnieCanuck says

    That part about Islamic ring*tones being blasphemous according to Muslim clerics, has me scratching my head.

    Where does one find music that can be touted as a selling feature specifically to Muslims, if music is forbidden to them?

    Something is not making sense. Yes, I know… Even so there must be something I’m missing.

  27. says

    What about one of those cell-phone family plans? Or phones you can buy for young teens that call only 10 numbers, which YOU program? Might be cheaper.

  28. Ian H Spedding FCD says

    Cell phones were a dream come true for Trekkies like myself since they were the embodiment of the original Star Trek communicator. I still remember the thrill of getting the first Motorola StarTac.

    Of course, the phones have always had a strong religious connection: going out-of-range at a vital moment usually leads to an invocation along the lines of “Jesus H Christ! No *&!!@&%$$$ signal!!”

  29. MartinC says

    Its just another blatant example of the lack of equality for us atheists.
    “I want a kosher mobile phone !”
    “Here you go Rabbi”
    And yet if you or I asked for a simple ham sandwich that can send text messages……

  30. Freddy the Pig says

    I have been reading Peter Singer’s The Way we Eat – Apparently stunning an animal before it’s throat is cut against Kosher butchery rules. He describes cattle staggering away as they bleed to death. I guess ignorant superstition trumps decency and compassion. Since they insist on clinging to 2000 year old rules, a Kosher cell phone should consist of two tin cans and a piece of string.

  31. valhar2000 says

    If such a service had been available, I might have bought one of these kosher phones myself. Not because of the religious mumbo-jumbo, but because I think that the entertainment features in phones are not very useful and would rather exchange them for a lower price.

    I wonder how many of those 20000 subscribers did it for the same reason?

  32. Flex says

    Here I go again…, trying to understand why cell phone makers are adding nutty things to phones. The next integrated cell phone feature is undoubtably a coffee maker.

    Seriously, since I’m paying for a business strategy course, I might as well share the insights I get into the working of the corporate executive mind (what little there is of one).

    We are taught that there are two successful strategies, differentiation of features or low cost. Differentiation has the better profit margin, but if the different feature is easy to copy, the better profit margin won’t last long. So any company who’s strategy relies on differentiation of technological devices (which are usually pretty easy to copy) has to continue to add features to remain ahead of the competition.

    A company which is successful at differentiation not only shows a better profit, but also does better in the stock market. Where, with the introduction of stock options about 15 years ago. executives make a lot of their personal income. So companies will add features in order to maintain the differentiation, even features that a large number of customers don’t want.

    We are taught, in my strategy class, that simply adding features is not necessarily a good thing. The added features should be things the customers want. But sometimes it’s hard to tell what the customer wants when the features are on every device.

    The feature-free phones are not necessarily persuing a low cost strategy. But they are differentiating themselves by customer demand, and have the option to lower margins more than a feature-rich phone thus they are able to maintain a price advantage over a feature-rich if these companies desire.

    What I find amazing is that company executives have seemed to have all learned the same two generic strategies from the same textbooks, and they never seem to consider that maybe there are more subtle strategies than the low cost or product differentiation strategies.

  33. Vic says

    Cellphone companies, at the time, had started to load their products with entertainment features, and the rabbi wanted none of it. He was in search of a phone without Internet capabilities or text messaging. He didn’t want cameras, music downloading, or anything else that could “distract” the pious. He was looking for a device that could make and receive calls. Period.

    Hm. If something has a feature I don’t need or want, I just don’t use it. How ‘pious’ can they be if they so easily succumb to secular temptation”? Sounds like an admission of weakness to me…

  34. Ribozyme says

    The iPhone is WAY too expensive for the storage capacity it offers: 500 USD for 4GB and 600 USD for 8GB. I must admit it’s very flashy and attractive, but it is no substitute for an iPod. It’s more like a smart phone combined with a fashion statement. I bet it’s going to change the way other companies design their interfaces, but I must agree with the person that doesn’t trust first generation gadgets. I’ll better wait for the competition to catch up, the design to improve and the prices to go down. If you want a simple cellphone that makes text messaging easy, check this one It doesn’t even have a camera! Something I love, as it’s usually a waste of space and money. Here in Mexico most people have plans in which you pay only for the time you speak and the number of text messages you send. I use my cellphone almost exclusively for text

  35. Steve_C says

    I’m a designer geek sooo…

    I wouldn’t be caught dead with that LG phone. Damn it’s ugly.

    As for the iPhone capacity. It’s the same as the Nano. Which are about $200.
    Also that capacity is much bigger than most smart phones that don’t include a big flash card. It’s also has a true 802.11 wireless card. And a fully rendered browser. Which means you can surf the web without paying Cell carriers by using free network access.

    There’s alot of very user friendly tech crammed into it. For $500 I expect them to sell millions of them. I just like to hold off 3-6 months after a new prouct launch before jumping in.

    I have a slim Samsung T509 bar phone. Which I love.

  36. Jake says

    cell phones are godless, evil tools of Satan and the secular world

    So are buttons. Satan’s fasteners.

  37. says

    I quite understand all the people saying they want a stripped-down, minimalist phone that just does one thing and does it well.

    OTOH, when I went to see Flock of Dodos, I was able to use the video feature on my phone to record the panel discussion after the film, which I thought was pretty cool.

  38. HPLC_Sean says

    If the Rabbi wants to avoid being distracted by his cell phone during prayer and meditation, maybe he should just turn it off… (duh!). I think the Rabbi is expressing his frustration at being electronically challenged by conjuring a new religious edict.
    Feature-packed phones are actually pretty useful! Especially for people who travel alot. I’ve used the camera several times to remind me of certain places I’ve been as well as to defend myself against a wrongly issued parking fine. I use text messaging to send notes to my loved ones when I’m far away thus saving $$$ on long-distance. I use the mobile www browser to find phone numbers, do my banking and get NHL stats. The integrated MP3 player is great for personal listening as well as hosting parties in your hotel room (I plug the phone into the TV and play DJ).
    There is certainly a niche out there for the electronically challenged, but to say that God loves them and will pass harsh judgement on techno-geeks like me is at the height of arrogance.

  39. says

    I am pleased to see there are other technologically literate and reasonably intelligent people who still don’t own one of those cellphone things. Though, I recognize their usefulness for people who have to go places alone and so on.