Soon after Alef Jewish Restaurant opened for business in Krakow's Jewish quarter more than a decade ago, a gaggle of Polish schoolgirls wandered in during their lunch break. The anxious students asked the restaurant's co-owner, Janusz Benigier, whether they served non-Jews.
Though Israel boasts a burgeoning high-tech industry and a predominantly Net-savvy populace, many of the country's charedim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) view technology, especially the World Wide Web, as something of a mixed blessing. Sure, many charedim support their families by writing code, and several sites such as asktherabbi.com help Diaspora Jews answer questions about Jewish law, but earlier this year the Council of Torah Sages banned the Internet from its followers' homes. In a harshly worded edict, the panel of Talmudic scholars that represents the majority of charedi sects branded the Internet a "terrible danger" that's "1,000 times" more hazardous than television (which was cast out of ultra-Orthodox homes about 30 years ago). Some sects even declared personal computers in the home off-limits.