This is intended to be an academic question. All practical halachic questions should be decided based on a consult with your local Orthodox rabbi.

Pokemon Go is a new game for smartphones where you find pokemon and pokemon-related items in the real word. The game utilizes data collected by another game by the same developing company, Niantic.

Pokestops are locations in the real world where you can collect items and pokemon eggs. They are kind of like geocaches. They self replenish. They correspond to real life objects, like murals or memorials.

My question is: Is one allowed to use Pokestops that correspond to churches? You don't have to be inside the church to use the Pokestop, but you have to be close to them.

Possibly relevant: I asked a poseik whether I can adjust a watch to the time according the bells of a church's clock. He said it is allowed mi'ikkar hadin (by the strict letter of the law), but I should treat it as a davar meguneh (something very distasteful).

Edit: clarification about the clock question: He said that using sound this way isn't really hana'ah. I would think this is similar, that it's not really hana'ah, so I doubt it's assur. But this but not even be a davar meguneh, as it might not have anything to do with the church per se.

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    I'm not quite seeing the problem of stopping by the outside of a church. Is there a halacha that one may not admire a church's architecture from the outside? If not, then why would a Pokestop be a problem? It's a virtual game. One is not benefitting from the church, itself. For some reason, Mr. Mon, decided to choose the church's location.
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 15:05
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    "Is there a halacha that one may not admire a church's architecture from the outside?" See ShA YD 151:14 he.wikisource.org/wiki/…
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 15:10
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    As an aside, a friend of mine asked if he was able to attend a non-medical based meeting in a church's social hall, and was told he was allowed. Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 17:22

3 Answers 3


One thing to note: One shouldn't use the church as a meetup location, like: "Meet me outside the church on Ploni Street at 4PM to collect items from the PokeStop."

Source: Sanhedrin 63b

דתניא ושם אלהים אחרים לא תזכירו שלא יאמר אדם לחבירו שמור לי בצד עבודת כוכבים פלונית לא ישמע על פיך שלא ידור בשמו ולא יקיים בשמו ולא יגרום לאחרים שידרו בשמו ושיקיימו בשמו

"V'Shem Elohim Acharim Lo Tazkiru" (Shmos 23:13) ==> one should not say to his friend 'wait me near avoda zara X ' ; "Lo Yishama Al Picha" ==> one should not wow by the avoda zara's name, nor swore by it, nor cause to other that they wow or swore by it.

(It is also in Shulchan Aruch, as well as a Psak that I heard, which applies it to mekomos Avodah Zarah as well as the Avodah Zarah themselves, and in this case, specifically churches.)

I'm not sure if collecting items from a digital pokestop which doubles as a church (or vice versa) is considered getting "Hana'ah" (even indirectly) from Avodah Zarah. Someone would have to address if a church bezman hazeh is a makom Avodah Zarah, and if gaining items in a digital game is "Hana'ah", and if gaining said items through a church (even indirectly) is enough to be considered "Hana'ah".

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    I've never heard it even contended against that a church is a makom avoda zarah even bizman hazeh, except for Unitarian branches of Christianity. For the purpose of my question, I'm treating it as obviously a makom a"z.
    – GFauxPas
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 18:23

Rabbi Neudstadt has a great article saying,

One factor to keep in mind is how close one gets to the building itself as he notes, " While church services are being held, it is clearly forbidden to enter the church’s parking lot because it may seem to a bystander that one is entering the parking lot in order to enter the church. When church services are not being held, it is permitted to cut through the church’s parking lot. Although the poskim refer to a middas chasidus (an act of piety) not to enter a courtyard of a church, nevertheless, if the shortest route available is through the church's parking lot, it is permitted and the middas chasidus does not apply, based on Rama, Y.D. 149:2. See also Igros Moshe, Y.D. 3:129-6.


I asked Rav Dovid Bleich years ago about going into a church and he told me that there was no problem as long as it wasn't during a service. I used that response just this week when I went on a tour of old Bronx shuls in the Grand Concourse area.

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    Shuls... churchs, not clear. Can you explain?
    – kouty
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 20:07
  • But this might be worse than entering, as this might be called getting hana'ah from the church.
    – GFauxPas
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 21:49
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    @kouty Many old shuls in the Bronx (and other places in the us) were turned into churches after the neighboorhood changed and the jews left. Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 12:30
  • @Waw, I know this in Venezzia. Yerachem Hashem.
    – kouty
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 12:34

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