June 1, 2004 | Issue 12

Online Shul Tightens Security After Receiving Abusive Visitors

LONDON, ENGLAND — [TheKnish.com] An Internet shul has been forced to tighten security after a slew of abusive visitors made letzonos and shmoozed during Hallel and Kedusha.

The shul, complete with a virtual bimah, aron kodesh and long-bearded Rav, is sponsored by Rodef Kavod and run by "Moishav Laytzim," an online Jewish magazine. Visitors to the shul - represented by avatars, or three-dimensional figures - are able to shukkel, leig tefillin and slash people next to them with their virtual talleisim.

The shul said that the first two days of the site, which launched last week, were very noisy. In one case a person logged in as the Yetzer Horah and distracted everyone from davening with kavana.

In response, the "Bais Machshev" Shul has withdrawn the "kol rom" button, which allowed visitors to distract everyone with loud himel-geshrai davening. The shul also added more shamosim, who use a "shtois" button to log out people who use cellphones as early as Alaynu. The ezras nashim has been closed because some yoilacks had to finish smoking their virtual cigarettes before coming in to daven.

Another early problem was disruptive virtual shnorrers. These disorderly interlopers interrupted the congregants browsers with popups, shterring kavana. When users attempted to pay via PayPal, the shnorrers told them that PayPal doesn't have change, a charge that PayPal vigorously denies. The site now recommends that users click the lock icon in their browsers to verify that a shnorrer's certificate is signed by an appropriate virtual rabbinic authority.

One controversy at the fledgling shul that shouldn't have surprised the founders was the issue of the mechitza/firewall. While some are complaining that too few ports are open, others are claiming that the installed policy is too permissive. One member of the shul, who spoke on condition of anonymity, played the issue down. "I don't see what the big deal is. This is the Internet, man. There's no need to go to shul to sneak a peak, you sickos. Besides, I already hacked through the mechitza" he said.

A spokesman for the online shul talked about the shul's openness to all. He said, "All browser denominations are welcome. Well, except for the multi-platform ones. Polyplatformism is the first step towards polytheism, and we can't have that. Also, the gartel plug-in is highly recommended for an optimal experience."


Pencil Mordy Ovits did standup once. They laughed at him. They all laughed at him. You can email your laughter to him at movits@theknish.com.

Pencil Martin Bodek is short, dark, handsome, runs marathons (finishes them too!), can solve a Rubik's Cube in 1:47, is a big TED chasid, can whup your keister in Scrabble, loves halva, co-founded TheKnish.com, and writes books from 5-9: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/mbodekatgmaildotcom


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