technology

The Jewish Classroom, More Wired Than Ever

Special To The Jewish Week
08/17/2010

 Many 30- and 40-year-olds will remember when a cart with a computer and monitor was wheeled into the classroom and students formed a single line waiting for a chance to use the device for a few minutes. Perhaps it was typing out a few lines of code in BASIC to move the cursor several inches along the screen, or perhaps it was creating an elementary art design.

Brave New Tech World Awaits Jewish Education

Special To The Jewish Week
08/17/2010

 This year I attended a Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration. There were hundreds of kids from Israel, San Francisco, New York and Turkey eating falafel and dancing to Hadag Nachash, Israel’s premier hip-hop band. 

 

The Internet's Effect on Jewish Newspapers

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) likes to think of itself as the the Jewish AP. The JTA is a non-profit news service that disseminates the happenings in the Jewish world as soon as they happen. Ideally, they try to scoop all the other news agencies and print media.

JTA Publisher Ami Eden

The Virtual Simcha

The first time I heard about a "virtual simcha" was in the late 1990s. Detroit was hit with a massive snowstorm and the 8-day old baby boy's aunt who was to play the role of rabbi was stuck at the airport in New York. The rabbi improvised and she officiated at her nephew's bris via speaker phone.

Of course, if this happened in 2010 and not in the late 1990s the bris would have been officiated by the rabbi through Skype, and she would have seen the simcha and been seen by the attendees.

Using technology to add people to a simcha is becoming more common. An increasing number of grandparents and great-grandparents are attending their grandchildren's wedding in the virtual world.

Just last month I officiated at a wedding that was being streamed live to Israel so that the bride's elderly grandparents could "be there." Through Ustream.tv, the grandparents felt like they were at the wedding even if it meant staying up late into the night in Israel.

 

Live Streaming Wedding Allows Relatives in Israel to "Attend"

There's a Kosher App for That

As someone who not only keeps kosher, but also works as a mashgiach (kosher supervisor), I often find myself away from the computer and searching for kosher food options. There are two good iPhone apps that help users locate the closest kosher options, whether it's a box of cereal or an Italian restaurant you're looking for .

RustyBrick's kosher app links to the largest kosher database on the web at the Shamash site. With over 2,000 restaurants in the database, the Jewish Kosher App for the iPhone or iPod Touch looks up the nearest kosher place to eat from your current location, using the iPhone's GPS features. (If GPS or localization isn't on or available, a location or name can be typed in.) Additionally, a kosher symbols database is available to quickly look up what kosher symbols are backed by which organizations or rabbi. As a bonus feature, all of the food blessings and prayers in Hebrew are included in this app so one can give proper thanks before and following the meal.

Another new iPhone app to help the kosher eater locate food is called My Grocery Master. It allows users to browse and search a database of over 100,000 Kosher, gluten-free and lactose-free items across the United States, meeting the user’s lifestyle and dietary requirements. Created by Nosh Maven LLC, My Grocery Master enables people following kosher diets to find acceptable food near their location.

 

New Apps Locate Kosher Fare

Even the Weather in Jerusalem Has Become Political

The LA Times Babylon & Beyond blog reported on Sunday that Apple has reunified Jerusalem.

Has Steve Jobs become a United Nations peacekeeper? Did Apple release a new app that unites the holy city of Jerusalem during these tense times? Maybe you thought Jerusalem had already been reunified several decades ago.

Well, it turns out that even the weather in Jerusalem has been politicized. Yahoo, who runs the Apple iPhone Weather app with information gathered by Weather.com changed created two choices for viewing the weather in Jerusalem – East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem. This is different than the designations on Yahoo's own site and on the Weather.com site.

 

What's the Weather Like in Jerusalem? Which Jerusalem?

Fake Israeli PR Twitter Feed

Time Magazine released its list of the top ten satirical Twitter feeds. By "satirical," Time is referring to an intentionally faux feeds that seeks to poke fun at its subject. Topping the list is British Petroleum's fake public relations feed, which notably has five times as many followers as BP's official, verified Twitter account. [I'm sure it will only gain in popularity with this publicity.]

IsraelGlobalPR is a satirical Twitter feed critical of Israel

The Virtual Minyan Revisited

It was 1998 and I was in my first semester of rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary. My Talmud professor, Rabbi Avram Israel Reisner, approached me after class one day to discuss a project he was working on. As a member of the Conservative Movement's Law Committee, he was examining the acceptability of a virtual minyan (prayer quorum).

Can Virtual Prayer Communities Work?
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