The Internet revolution turned the tourism industry on its head – with the click of a button, you can find last-minute deals, flip through photos of hotels or order airline tickets. No wonder many prefer to skip the travel agent and do it themselves.
Yet, in the haredi community the Internet (even the "kosher" version) is strictly prohibited for fear of exposure to improper content leaving members of this community that totals 800,000 households with limited choices.
Furthermore, a haredi traveler has to worry about things that a secular one hardly thinks about: kashrut standards, the distance to the nearest synagogue, separate hours for men and women at the swimming pool or the beach, etc. Without the Internet's endless options, most haredim just settle for traveling to the same limited number of locations year after year.
Nathanael Azran, a 24-year-old entrepreneur from Bnei Brak, came up with a creative solution to tackle this issue. He developed a CD that contains information about a variety of topics including tourism: "I realized there must be a better way to make information accessible," he said.
"I have a computer at home but I only use it to write letters or watch haredi films. I have no Internet connection and I found it difficult to make educated consumer choices. So I came up with the idea of a CD that is an off-line search engine of sorts."
On the CD, haredi and religious vacationers can find information about tourist attractions, hotels, kashrut, synagogues and the like.
Two hundred thousand copies of the CD will be distributed free-of-charge starting January. A special committee of the haredi Education and Sanctity Guardians – the institution that adjudicates matters ranging from cell phones to the kashrut of swimming pools – will oversee and approve all content.