A mass rally for men only drew more than 40,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews to Citi Field Sunday to denounce the Internet and its pervasive impact on family life.
An overflow crowd of another 20,000 bearded men sporting long black coats and big black hats filled nearby Arthur Ashe Stadium for the unprecedented attack on modern technology.
Unable to enter the Queens stadiums because of the strict separation of the sexes enforced by the organizers, more than 15,000 Hasidic women watched the speeches at six sites across the tristate area — thanks to live-streaming on the Internet.
The rally was organized by a little-known rabbinical group called Ichud Hakehillos L’tohar Hamachane — the Union of Communities for the Purity of the Camp — to spread the word that online activities can lead to porn, child abuse and other acts of immorality.
But Eytan Kobre, who runs a Jewish family weekly magazine in Brooklyn and serves as the group’s spokesman, insists it is not calling for a ban on Internet use, but wants to use filters to manage it.
“With one click, all of a sudden, you lose control and are whisked away to a world you never intended to see, and it overtakes your life,” he said. “As a community, we are asking, is it worth it?”
Kobre cited social media like Facebook and Twitter that he argues can lead people away from prayer, community and family and cause social ruination.
“I know that Facebook ruins marriages,” he said.
The No. 1 message of the rally is to protect children from a world where unbridled freedom can be destructive, said Dr. Reuven Weinstein, 58, a dentist from Flatbush.