For Jews who already intend to partake in Passover festivities, there are several iPhone applications released within the past year that can serve as teaching tools, before and during the seder.
Before the holiday begins, families can prepare their houses properly by downloading the simplistically designed but informative black-and-white “apps” called “At Our Rebbes’ Seder Table” and “Pesach Guide,” both free and published respectively by Sichos in English in Crown Heights and JewishContent.org.
Parents trying to teach their children how to chant the Four Questions can purchase iMah Nishtanah ($0.99), a Behrman House Publishing app that sings the questions aloud while allowing the user to follow along, word-by-word. Meanwhile, virtual flashcards and an image match game give kids the chance to learn the meaning of each Hebrew word they chant.
“Already religious school teachers are telling kids to download it to their iPod Touches,” said Jeremy Poisson, the app’s developer, who sees iMah Nishtanah best used as an at-home “crash course” in preparation for seders. Poisson is also spearheading the release of Behrman’s customizable Family Haggadah ($19 for one, $11 each for 20 or more), where families can order personalized books according to their needs and interests.
“Why not be able to change text and commentary inside the Haggadah,” he said. “Customized technology is the future and people being able to create their own books is the first step into it.”
During their actual seders, guests can now follow along virtually with “The Union Haggadah” ($2.99) app from the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis or a second “Haggadah” ($0.99), released by Hadar Porat, an iPhone app developer. “The Story of Passover,” by Wertheim Interactive Studios provides a refresher course in seder table terminology, available in both a “lite” (free) and $0.99 version. This app makes sure to specify that no, this is not a functional Haggadah, and should by no means be used in place of one.
For the post-seder days, “Passover Food Street” ($0.99) provides a ream of creative recipe options for the week, with a detailed selection of soup, salad, appetizer, main course, side and dessert ideas.
Poisson expects that all of these apps will become increasingly popular as people see the technology in action at their seders, and he hopes that not too far into the future, designers will be able to synchronize app technology among all the smartphone platforms, including BlackBerry and Android.
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