For ultra-Orthodox Jews who shun secular newspapers, radio and the Internet, the best way to hear the news has long been by literally reading the writing on the wall.

The insular, strictly religious community still relies on black and white posters pasted up on walls in their neighborhoods to hear the latest rulings from important rabbis on modest dress, upcoming protests and the correct way to vote in elections.

Now one avid collector has teamed up with Israel’s National Library to bring this old-fashioned form of communication into the 21st century by scanning more than 20,000 of the posters — known locally as “pashkevilim” — into a digital online archive. The project, which includes an exhibit that opened at the library earlier this month, offers a glimpse into one of the main media used by a group trying to hold the line against the march of modernity.

In Jerusalem, an old-fashioned medium goes online

There are certain cultures who belive that taking their photograph steals their souls. I doubt that the refusal to use modern technology relates to that particular superstition – although I might argue that the use of social networking does exactly that.

But I do wonder if it relates to superstition or religious beliefs.

In any case, it’s a strange bit of irony that these posters, which are a rejection of modern technology and communication mediums, are now being archived as digital images. The article is an interesting read with some background on the ultra-orthodox man who has been collecting these posters since he was a teenager and his recent collaboration with the National Library of Israel to scan and catalog this same collection.

Bit of trivia – the label “pashkevilim” evolved from the name of an Italian statue known as Pasquino, in Rome, where locals pasted satire and protest calls in the 16th century.

Sort of like an ancient Facebook…