Jewish News article Passover 5772 – by Rabbi Daniel M. Cohen

Why are these apps different from all other apps?

For Passover, info and entertainment in the palm of your hand

by Rabbi Daniel M. Cohen

March 27, 2012

In preparation for Passover, I went to the iTunes App Store looking for some specific apps. I wanted an app that helps prepare for Passover, an app that serves as a mobile Haggada, an app that would helps determine which foods are and aren’t kosher for Passover, and an app or two that are entertaining and educational. I was easily able to find a suitable example for each category.

Haggada for Passover

(tinyurl.com/7hgk8qc, $.99) is a mobile Haggada for either iPhone or iPad. It is straightforward and easy to use. I love the design of the app when used on an iPad; it places each of the parts of the seder on the left, so you can observe the order and flow of the service meal as you use it. The ordered parts remain static on the left while the remaining two-thirds of the screen show the content of that section of the Haggada. Settings are minimal but sufficient, allowing you to change the font and font size; you can choose either a light background with dark text or vice versa. Those who are ritually strict may want to avoid this app, since it spells out the name of divinity and does not use the placeholder of “HaShem.” As a Progressive Reform Jew, this is actually one aspect of the app that I appreciate.

No Chametz!

(tinyurl.com/7n5tzow, free) is an iPhone-only app but it will, of course, also work on the iPad in “doubled” mode. As the app explains, “The No Chametz! app helps Jews go through the process of searching, cleaning, destroying, and selling their bread prior to the Passover holiday.”

This app takes you through the entire ritual preparation for Passover; it explains the traditional way of dealing with hametz (leavened foods), and it enables you to sell your hametz so that none is left in your possession. It then walks you through the ritual of finding and then burning the ten pieces of hametz that were hidden around the house. Finally, it includes the various Halachot (Jewish laws) regarding hametz, its possession, and its removal prior to observing Passover.

OU Kosher

(tinyurl.com/7glukko, free) is also an iPhone-only app. It helps you find out what foods are kosher in general, which aren’t, and which are kosher for Passover specifically. It also lets you know what products are newly certified as kosher and gives you unique alerts when there are changes in product status. For example, it is not surprising that Oreo cookies are kosher, but they are not kosher for Passover. Mott’s Natural Applesauce is also kosher but not for Passover. Rockeach cabbage soup, on the other hand, is kosher for Passover, but only when it has the special sale for the holiday. If you are seeking to ensure that you are strictly kosher for Passover this year, then this is an excellent app. It would be considerably enhanced if you could simply use it to scan a product’s barcode, and thus find out whether or not the food was kosher. I have used this feature on other shopping apps and it is a huge help.

iMahNishtanah

(tinyurl.com/74qwabg, $.99) comes from Behrman House publishers, and it is a terrific way for kids and adults to learn Passover’s four questions on their iPhone or iPod Touch. This app lets kids look at and listen to each of the words of the four questions being read. It also lets students record themselves and play it back. A number of activities also allow kids to practice vocabulary that is relevant for the seder in a straightforward, fun manner.

Finally, there is the Passover Trucks Game HD (tinyurl.com/73qg697). This iPad application is a game which helps kids and adults alike select which food items are kosher for Passover and which aren’t. Foods come to the foreground on a conveyor belt, and you decide whether they go on the regular food truck or the Kosher for Passover food truck. Once both trucks are full that level ends, and you go to the next level which is faster and a bit more complicated. It would be better if there were a greater number of food types, but it’s still a playful way for kids to get involved in the holiday that will keep them entertained for at least a short while.

Rabbi Daniel M. Cohen is the senior religious leader of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange. Fascinated by technology from a young age, he has written on gadgetry and current technology for a number of on-line and print outlets. Questions? Suggestions? E-mail him at rabbidmc@tstinj.org.
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