“Facebook is not a modest thing for a Jewish girl,” said Rabbi Benzion Stock, Beth Rivkah’s administrator, ostensibly referring to a Facebook user’s ability to communicate secretively with strangers and establish what can be considered potentially inappropriate relationships. “Girls are getting killed on the Internet – that’s the reason for it.” According to Rabbi Stock, the school has had a student-wide Facebook ban in effect for the past few years, but – due to its great rise in popularity – recently asked its 495 students to sign a formal pledge not to utilize the site.
Expounding on the school’s thinking behind the ban, Stock asserted that Facebook motivates girls to act in a fashion that violates Orthodox rules of modesty. “The Internet is a good way to ruin marriages and families,” Stock said. “We don’t want them there, period. It’s the wrong place for a Jewish girl to be. Socializing on Facebook could lead to the wrong things.”
But at least one former student remained eager to voice her dissension over the policy.
“It’s not right that they’re keeping them from such a thing,” commented Chaya Tatik, a 17-year-old who claims she was expelled from Beth Rivkah in ninth grade because she was a Facebook user and dressed immodestly. “Everyone uses Facebook – it’s a way to communicate,” Tatik declared. “I communicate with my cousins from Israel, who I don’t get to see that much.”
Tatik believes that the school’s crackdown on Facebook usage will ultimately have an adverse effect on its teenage students. “Blocking them from using it gives them hatred,” she insisted. “They want to take revenge and rebel. I know because I’ve experienced it.”
A number of Beth Rivkah’s students and parents pointed out that, ironically, the school’s website features an announcement asking supporters to sign up for Facebook in an effort to win funds for the school.