I slowly walked down the stairs, brain still half asleep, eyes half-closed. I saw my dad seated at my dining room table, wide awake, staring intently into his Kindle. My parents were in town for the High Holy Days, a time of year we hadn’t spent together in a long time. “Whatcha reading?” I mumbled, mid-yawn, and he promptly told me that he was enjoying his early morning Rashi. Rashi – on his Kindle! And then he was planning on studying a bit of Talmud before continuing with his day.
I've written several times about how technology is changing the global Jewish community, but I haven't looked at other religious groups. Jamshid Ghazi Askar contacted me recently about an article he was writing on how different religious groups are using new technology like iPhone apps. It is interesting to hear how Mormons and Catholics are taking advantage of mobile apps in their faith communities.
I'm often asked what I think will be the "next big thing" when it comes to technology and Jewish education. Recently, I've been focused on QR codes. You know those odd little squares that look like a cross between a thumbprint and a bar code? Scanning that QR code automatically provides you with information about whatever it was that you just scanned. A lot of information. Scan a book and immediately be able to search inside its pages or find the lowest price online to purchase it.
It's the age old question: Is so and so Jewish or not? I'm not talking about the controversial "Who is a Jew" question that gets into matters of lineage. Rather, the dinner party question of whether a celebrity is Jewish or not.
Leave it to Robert Pass, creator of the Jewish iPhone Community, to put together a comprehensive website with everything a connected, Jewish techie needs to celebrate Purim in the Digital Age. In addition to the Grogger Factory's 2010 contribution to iPurim with their virtual grogger, there are a host of other apps (some old, some new) for this year's Purim celebration. Check out the Purim page of the Jewish iPhone Community.
My list of the Best Jewish Apps of 2010 here at The Jewish Week has generated a lot of attention. The list of thirty-three apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android phones has been reposted on several blogs around the Web.
From tehillim to kosher restaurants, from kaparot to recipes, our tech guru picks the top 33 applications.
Rabbi Jason Miller
Special To The Jewish Week
As more Jewish people acquire the latest in handheld technology – think iPhones, iPads, Android-powered smartphones, BlackBerrys and tablet PCs — there will be more Jewish-themed applications available for download.
Some of these apps will be utilities for checking the Hebrew date or learning about the weekly Torah portion. Other apps will be novelties like making shofar sounds for Rosh HaShanah and grogger sounds on Purim. With many Jewish developers around the world, you can be certain there will be no dearth of Jewish apps in the coming year.
Applaud Mobile creates iPhone apps specifically for Jewish organizations like synagogues, temples and Jewish schools. I recently reviewed the app it created for the Solomon Schechter Day School in Newton, Massachusetts. Tamir and Marcia Borensztajn, active lay leaders in their community and parents at SSDS, came up with the Applaud Mobile app.