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Israel unveils 'first sin-free Yiddish smartphone'

An Israeli telecoms company is offering ultra-Orthodox Jewish clients a kosher smartphone with Hassidic folk music ringtones and a menu in Yiddish, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

While other firms have tapped into the religious market by offering phones free of Internet access, with no email or access to Facebook which could lead users into temptation, none has so far offered its services in Yiddish, Yediot Aharonot said.

"This phone has no text messages, Internet access, Facebook or email. It doesn't even have a camera," said the paper.

"And if you call from it on the Sabbath, you will pay an exorbitant price of 10 shekels ($3/2 euros) per minute."

And all the menus are in Yiddish - the traditional German-derived language still widely used by ultra-Orthodox Jews, with the local market estimated at between 350,000 to 400,000 people, the paper said.

Local importer Accel Telecom said it took four months for a pair of ultra-Orthodox translators to come up with the interface which is written in Hebrew characters and uses words such as "Klingen" (ringtone) and "Schirm Verteidikung" (screensaver).

But to win rabbinical approval for the device, which is based on an Alcatel T-701 handset, Accel had to first prove that tech-savvy users would not be able to work their magic to circumvent the safeguards and succumb to sin.

"It is not simple to make the phones kosher and bring them to a level in which you prove that the phone cannot be breached or changed in such a way that it will be possible to send text messages or surf the Internet with it," Accel CEO Mark Seelenfreund told the paper.