The religious media may be divided according to sector and according to whether the media is institutionalised or commercial in structure. The religious media may be divided between the Haredi media and the modern Orthodox Jewishmedia. Both reﬂect Jewish values. There are no large scale media published by the Conservative or Reform communities in Israel. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (2009), 8 per cent of Israel’s Jewish population in 2009 deﬁned themselves as Haredim. Of all sectoral communities, the Haredim have been most active in creating their own community media. Reﬂecting its philosophy of withdrawal from modernity, and seeking to maintain religious values in a cultural ghetto framework, the Haredi (Hebrew for fearful ones) community or ultra-Orthodox Jews have felt most threatened by changing mass media. As advanced by Theodore Adorno (1991), of the Frankfurt School of critical
Marxist thought, the media are a powerful agent for legitimising political structures, providing consumers with illusory choices and unimportant choices turning their attention from participating fully and creatively in mainstream societal structures. If news is the outcome of structure then in a religious society the news will be diﬀerent than in a secular Israeli religious society.
While ideology cannot be ignored even with the general media, its major impact on coverage is in the religious media. The exposure of Haredi Jews has been heavily inﬂuenced by their spiritual
leaders. Their rabbis have over the years issued religious decrees (pesuk din) against exposure to mass media regarded as a threat to Torah family values. From the appearance of newspapers in the nineteenth century, through to the development of radio and television, and latterly video, computers and Internet and cellcom phones, Haredi rabbis have enacted such decrees. When Israel Television was established in 1968, Haredi rabbis banned their followers from watching television because its content was considered morally inappropriate; while entertainment per se is not invalidated, the Haredi perspective is nevertheless critical of it regarding it as more than a relief from such higher values as religious study. The bans on television and secular newspapers were the most successful of the bans against media with the overwhelming number of Haredim respecting it. The earlier ban on radio – based on the prohibition against hearing gossip (loshon hara) as well as the importance of modesty because radio programming prior to television had a much wider gamut of subjects including drama – is nevertheless less respected than the television ban because Israel’s ongoing political-defence problems of the country make it diﬃcult for people to adhere to the ban. When videos cameras were produced – with many Haredi families using them to record family celebrations – no rabbinical ban was introduced initially because its usage could be controlled. However, after it was discovered that television programmes could be seen if videos were plugged into computers, Haredi rabbis in 1993 banned videos.