Jerusalem – Following the resignation of its top two editors, the leading Hebrew-language charedi website is now headed by its completely secular CEO.
Just hours after gedolei Yisroel issued a sweeping ban against Israel’s charedi websites two weeks ago, Guy Cohen, the CEO and primary shareholder of Global Networks, [or known to some as Hydepark] accepted the resignations of Dovid Rotenberg, founder and chief editor of Bechadrei Charedim, and Dov Povarsky, one of the senior shareholders who was involved in every aspect of the website.
The sudden move left Cohen holding the reins and serving, by default, as a sort of managing editor. He proceeded to hire new staffers, who all work under pseudonyms. Only Cohen himself uses his real name.
Guy Cohen, 40 and single, lives in Bat Yam and works in Tel Aviv. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and got his start as a financial information systems manager at Merrill Lynch.
His company also owns two websites that offer content so unsavory they are considered offensive to many – if not most – secular Israelis.
Cohen told Hebrew website Maariv he plans to keep Bechadrei Charedim running – come what may. “I’m secular. I don’t listen to [the rabbonim] and I’m not obligated by their decisions,” he says. “The rabbis are not my spiritual leaders. As long as the law tells me I’m allowed to and the web surfers want it, I will continue to provide them with the product.”
Cohen says the recent resignations might even work to his advantage, since the website is now free from outside pressure regarding its content. But Cohen is not as uninhibited as he claims to be: the name of the new content manager is being kept secret. Following the notice banning Bechadrei Charedim and other charedi websites, Cohen opted to post pennames for all of his writers and editors.
Not only does Cohen have an entirely secular background, but he even acknowledges that his exposure to the charedi world began just two years ago, when he became control owner of the website.
“I’m secular. I don’t try to hide from anyone. And I think I’m coming clean and am as open and honest as can be. I’ve pledged to my customers that as long as the website belongs to me, I will provide them with the best service I know how to give. Beyond that, I don’t know how [my other websites] are relevant. Those are my private affairs.”
Nor does Cohen have any intentions of changing. “I was raised to be tolerant of other people and that others should be tolerant of me, and I have no intentions of changing my way of life in order to cast myself in a positive light to someone. I’m a man of honesty and integrity. I run businesses in an honest and fair manner. I lay everything out on the table in plain daylight.”
Cohen’s candidness may have harmed Bechadrei Charedim’s image and raised new concerns among charedim who continue to visit the website. In a special notice posted on the site today (Tuesday), he assured site users that he does not serve as editor or content manager.
“During the past few days I have assisted the new content managers,” Cohen revealed, “but after realizing that working with the charedi sector is unfamiliar to me, I now stand off to the side: I have no connection with the contents, neither the site nor the forums.”
Will all the hiemishe loshen hora disappear now?…
This should satisfy the Chareidi rabbonim that none of their followers should openly participate in websites. They will still be able to access the site and its management and content will be openly under secular ownership but chareidim will still be managing it content although they will be doing so under secret names so they don’t risk their place at the rebbe tish.
Apparently this guy operates terrible sites that even secular parents agree are no no.How could guys like Dovid Rotenburg etc be involved with such??
he will not listening to the rabunim OH GAVALD!!! we must close it. w/o a hasguca it will have all the tumana smutz
I”m a big time reader of Bchadrei chareidim its a great website & even since the rabbonim put a ban on it & Guy Cohen took full control it hasen”t changed whatsoever its great to surf that site
They can be theoretically “right”, yet they are now “dead right” in making foolish Isurim and Charomim against websites and blogs.
As the saying goes: “Mah Sheloy Yaaseh Hasechel Yaaseh Hazman”.
These Rabbi’s will eventually figure out in time, that all of their foolish efforts here are completely counterproductive and Bechadrey Chadorim will only have increased membership and far worse Loshon Hora than until now.
The situation now is much worse for these rabbi’s because until now, at least everyone knew who is in charge so a deal could have been worked out to somewhat limit and control just how far they should go and where not to go.
But by a sweeping ban, these Rabbi’s are now complete looser’s and have absolutely zero control and everything will continue just as before only far worse because now there is no more fear factor left as it’s now completely anonymous with no one left to blame.
It’s about time rabbonim wake up that they can’t control the world with gzeros shein rov hatzibur yecholim lekayem.
Banning Internet, banning concerts and what not, only backfires. The smart thing to do is make standards to work WITH the system, not against it.
In the original article in the Maariv (too bad more of it wasn’t translated by this site) Cohen makes an interesting observation.
He says that the Rabbonim themselves obviously don’t surf and haven’t seen the sites. They rely on others who may or may not be misleading them. This is not a knock against the Rabbonim as all major leaders, Presidents, etc., don’t have time to get into the details of every situation, but rely on information given to them by their aides. These Rabbonim are in the same position. The problem here is that much of the information they are getting here has been influenced by some with ulterior motives. He claims that the Chareidi papers are also losing readership to the web, as are secular papers, and they are trying to stop the losses by using their influence and giving distorted information to the Rabbonim.
Lubavitch was on the net without a glitch by recognizing its pervasive power from the get go and proceeded to use it.
על כך אומרת הגמרא (מסכת חגיגה ט”ו, עמ’ ב): “רבי מאיר – רימון מצא, תוכו אכל, קליפתו זרק”. כלומר, למד ממנו רק את הדברים הטובים