At a time when issues of religious worship are widely discussed in Jerusalem among all religions, the lay leadership of synagogue boards in Northern Israel have become fed up with cell phones ringing in the middle of prayer services.

As a result, they have decided to take action and have sought a permit to install cell phone jamming equipment and have sent the Israel Communications Ministry a request for it to examine the possibility of authorizing the use of equipment that disrupts cell phone reception in synagogues in Northern Israel.

The initiative was born following a request by Shlomo Burzuki, the sexton of the Yad Lebanim Synagogue in Kiryat Shmona. “I regret to say that it’s become a state-wide plague,” said Mr. Burzuki.

“In the very place where we’re supposed to connect to the Holy One Blessed Be He with a quiver in our bodies, people engage in the inanities of the world.”

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Mr. Burzuki, who wanted to put an end to cell phone use in his synagogue during services, took the matter up with Ofer Cohen, chairman of the Lobby for Jewish Values.

Mr. Cohen sympathized with the sexton’s problem and said that he suffered from the same difficulty in Tiberias, where he lives.

“The situation has become insufferable,” Mr. Cohen said in a shocked tone of voice. “People come to synagogue and, instead of cleaving with the Creator, they listen to third- and fourth-generation conversations.”

Mr. Cohen drafted a petition that seeks to prevent the use of cellular telephones in synagogues.

He also submitted a request for a license from the Communication Ministry to use jamming equipment that would affect a radius of between approximately 165 and 230 feet – equipment that would be installed in synagogue prayer halls.

Such jamming equipment is often used in sensitive Israeli intelligence venues and in combat units in the Israeli army to prevent conversations from being conveyed to Hezbollah and Hamas.

David Bedein can reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.