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Apps to make Jewish life easier

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With our reliance on smartphones and classic Jewish ingenuity, it comes as little wonder that there are a multitude of Jewish apps around. They cover everything from the most useful information to the downright ridiculous.
by JORDAN MOSHE | May 31, 2018

Here are examples of the former.

The app, “Is It Kosher?”, can help you find kosher products and drinks in any shop. All its databases are taken from organisations that certify products as kosher, including the Orthodox Union, Kosher USA, the Kashrut Council of Canada, the SA Beth Din, Manchester Beit Din Kashrut Division, and others. Using its handy barcode scanner, the app can assist in finding kosher products in any supermarket anywhere in the world.

Equally useful for travel is the “Shabbos Zmanim” application. The app will show you Shabbat Candle Lighting time, Havdalah times and the Parsha of the week for your current location or any location in the world. It is easy to use and has many useful features.

A similar app is “Shabbat Candle Lighting reminder”, which is a great initiative. The application automatically calculates the Shabbat entrance time based on your device location, and alerts you about it. You can set the alert time from the app menu to determine when you’d like to be alerted before Shabbos comes in, so as not to forget to light candles.

If you ever find yourself in doubt over a Jewish or halachic question and have no access to a rabbi, consider using the app, “InstaRabbi”. This app makes sure that you never again have to act as your own rabbi when you don’t know what to do, and that none of the questions that you have related to Judaism go unanswered. “InstaRabbi” allows Jews across the world to ask Torah or halachic questions and get them answered quickly by the app’s qualified and dedicated staff of rabbis.

Similarly, when you find that you don’t know what brocha to make over your lunch, you can consult “Brochos – Jewish Blessings” and avoid any embarrassment in having to ask someone else and showing you don’t know. Featuring a fully searchable database of brocha information, this app allows you to browse and explore various food items alphabetically, categorically, by popularity, and randomly. The app includes a bencher feature, so you can finish your meal conveniently by using your phone.

Bringing more Jewish texts to your smartphone, the “OnYourWay” app brings you a variety of Jewish literature accessible when you need it. Including a siddur, chumash, Mishna, halachic texts and more, this app allows you to carry a virtual Jewish library in your pocket. Whether you need to daven, read the Parsha or want to do some Jewish reading, the wide array of texts offered by this app will meet your needs.

And if you need help reading some of the texts in Hebrew, consider installing “Free Hebrew by Nemo”. The app allows you to learn from actual native speakers, who teach you the language. It requires no commitment other than a few minutes of your time when you have even a few minutes available. Designed to start you speaking the most useful words in Hebrew immediately and confidently, Nemo targets the words and phrases most often used in conversation. Its phrasebook offers access to the vocabulary in the app through a Hebrew-English dictionary interface, and it also functions as a translator, which can be found using the search interface and played in audio through the device speaker.

This isn’t the only Jewish app that makes use of the speaker. From Israeli to contemporary Jewish music, “J-Stream” offers users a large variety of station and music streams to listen to. Offering access to multiple stations playing Jewish music around the world, the app can display the name of the current song being played and can even play in the background while you use your phone for other things. Whether you want to enjoy listening to soothing Jewish tunes while you work or you’re looking to add atmosphere to your Israeli-themed party, you can find music to suit your needs.

If you really want to make a noise, the “Shofar” app is a real blast. Offering three recorded shofar sounds – tekkiah, shvarim and teruah – you can experience the High Holidays on any day of the year by recreating the sounding of the shofar with your smartphone. While not a substitute for the real thing, this app prevents lip chafing and breathlessness though digitising a tradition familiar to all of us.

And if you want to play a game, forget about “Angry Birds” and rather download “Angry Jew”. Developed by “three handsome Jews”, this “running-jumping-punching game” is the only one that has distinct Jewish themes. Set in 19th-century Russia, the game lets you play as Mendel, a streimel-sporting, payot-waving chossid with a time machine and a mission to collect as many “holy books” as possible. You get the opportunity to help this yiddisheh boychik travel through time and collect books – what could be more thrilling?

So, whether you want to learn, read, prepare for Shabbos, find a kosher bite to eat or go on time-travel adventures with a chossid, the array of Jewish apps available for download will meet your every Jewish need.

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