Rabbinical Assembly Launches Mobile App for Jewish Prayers

In a move to give individuals the tools to fully experience Judaism in their everyday lives, the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative rabbis and Masorti rabbis (Israel and Europe) has created a new smartphone app. Sanctifull, as the app is known, contains new prayers based on Jewish wisdom that specifically speak to life’s critical moments for which there is no traditional Jewish text. Other exciting features include Hebrew, English, transliteration and audio for many traditional blessings, like those for before and after food, along with new meditation for each.

Rabbinical-Assembly-Mobile-App-Sanctiful-app

Examples of these new prayers include occasions such as: putting a parent in the care of a nursing home, sending one’s children to school for the first time and after a fight with a spouse or friend.

“This app is our latest endeavor to make Judaism’s wisdom accessible for Jews in the rhythm of their everyday experiences,” said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president. “Our rabbis have created new prayers to accompany a variety of life’s moments that call out for a sacred connection and awaken their awareness to the richness of Jewish tradition.”

Rabbi Jan Uhrbach, associate editor of Siddur Lev Shalem edited the collection authored by 29 contributors. Sanctifull is available for download on the Apple App Store. No word yet on an Android OS version.

Author contributors include Rabbi David Ackerman, Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Rabbi Paula Drill, Cantor Joanna Dulkin, Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Reb Mimi Feigelson, Rabbi Shawn Fields-Meyer, Rabbi Jacob Fine, Rabbi Felipe Goodman, Rabbi Mark Greenspan, Rabbi Lilly Kaufman, Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin, Rabbi Allan Kensky, Rabbi Naomi Levy, Rabbi Jack Moline, Rabbi Daniel Nevins, Rabbi David Rosen, Rabbi Jim Rosen, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, Rabbi Rob Scheinberg, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Rabbi Gerald Skolnik, Rabbi Jonathan Slater, Rabbi Marc Soloway, Rabbi Aaron Weininger, Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, and Rabbi David Wolpe. The audio recordings were provided by Etta Abramson and Yossi Hoffman.

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Microsoft Corp. Buys Israeli Security Critic Aorato

Microsoft is buying an Israel-based company whose specialty in pointing out the security flaws in its premier products. On Thursday Microsoft spokespeople announced that it was buying Israeli cyber-security firm Aorato, confirming rumors that have been circulating for several weeks. Vice-President Takeshi Numoto wrote in a blog post that the company was “making this acquisition to give customers a new level of protection against threats through better visibility into their identity infrastructure. With Aorato we will accelerate our ability to give customers powerful identity and access solutions that span on-premises and the cloud, which is central to our overall hybrid cloud strategy.”

Aorato has long been on the radar of Microsoft – for discovering and publicizing security problems in AD, the premier identity server in use today. Among those problems was one in which authentication of users and computers in a Windows domain-based network could enable an attacker to change a user’s password, despite identity theft measures.

Considering the fact that 95% of all Fortune 1000 companies have an Active Directory deployment, “we consider this vulnerability highly sensitive,” said Aorato’s vice president of research, Tal Be’ery. “And even worse, the vulnerability was put there by design.” Stopping short of using the term “irresponsible,” Be’ery thinks the company could do better. “With great power comes great responsibility,” he said. “If it was a smaller company I would cut them some slack, but when you power 95% of the enterprise infrastructure, you have to be much more careful.”

microsoft buys israel company

AD assigns and enforces security policies for all computers, folders, files, objects, and users on a network, and being able to access it gives attackers, in essence, free reign to steal data at will — or wreak havoc on a system, trashing the relationships between users and resources. That kind of attack could put a company’s computer out of business, for hours, if not days.

The exploit is based on the fact that an older user authentication method, called NTLM, is activated by default in AD. Attackers can use NTLM to obtain encrypted login credentials — called hashes — for users in order to access AD accounts, in what is called a “pass-the-hash” (PtH ticket) attack. The hashes can be captured using off-the-shelf hacking tools. According to Be’ery, “this activity is not logged in system and 3rd party logs — even those that specifically log NTLM activity. So there are no alerts or other forensic data to ever indicate that an attack took place.”

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Sukkot and the Growth of Israel’s Tech Economy

On the eve of the Sukkot festival, Michael Eisenberg, a partner at Israeli-based venture capital firm Aleph VC, took a look at how Israel’s economy has changed over the past 3,000 years through the perspective of Sukkot. He posted it on Facebook and it’s worth reposting here on Jewish Techs blog.

By Michael Eisenberg
Michael_Eisenberg_Aleph_VC_IsraelAs we get ready for the holiday of Sukkot, I was thinking about the changing dynamics of Israel’s Economy over the last 3+ millennia. On Sukkot, we take the 4 species: the Lulav, Etrog, Hadas and Arava. They are, of course, symbolic of the sources of water that powered the agrarian economy of Israel and the world for over 3,000 years. The Lulav grows near underground water reserves. The Etrog must we watered by man. The Hadas grows from the rain and the Arava grows along the river banks. Water of all types was lifeblood of the Israeli economy. Without it, there was starvation and poverty. On Sukkot, the holiday of the gathering, symbolizing the end of the harvest season, we gather to give thanks to God for having helped provide the water that powered our economy.

 

Times have changed for most of us and the miracle of the Israeli economy is powered by innovation and technology. We still need rainwater so we can drink in Israel so on this holiday I will give thanks for the water as well. But I am also thankful for the the innovative spirit of Israel’s entrepreneurs. I am thankful to God for the lack of natural resources that forced us to innovate as a country. I am thankful that our innovation economy enables us to live in security in our own country after years of wandering.

Israel Tech Economy Sukkkot

This reflection caused me also to think about a mission statement for Israel as we build an economy based on innovation. The farmer of old, upon bringing his first fruits to the Temple, would recount his family history having left Egypt and now having the privilege to till his own land. He thanked God on the festivals for that privilege. We now have the privilege to improve our own lot and the plight of humanity through innovation. For that we should all be thankful to God and to the founding fathers of the modern state of Israel and the innovation economy. We must also redouble our efforts to put this privilege to work for others.

So I humbly suggest the following mission statement as we enter this Sukkot Holiday:

Our goal as a country is to move innovation into every aspect of Israel’s economy to enable everyone to live with dignity and to extend innovative solutions to every corner of the world to improve living conditions and life quality for humanity.

Chag Sameach!

Michael Eisenberg has been a key figure in Internet and software investing in Israel since 1995, playing a central role in the development of many of Israel’s leading companies and startups. In 2013, Michael launched Aleph, a $140MM early stage venture fund together with Equal Partner Eden Shochat. Aleph focuses on building big companies out of Israel and servicing the hell out of entrepreneurs. Michael previously served on the board of Snunit, Israel’s foremost nonprofit organization, specializing in integrating technology and the Internet into Israelss elementary schools. Michael also lectures frequently on the topics of venture capital and entrepreneurship at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He holds a BA in Political Science from Yeshiva University in New York.

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New Shabbos App Isn’t a Joke (But It’s a Joke)

Yitz Appel has created a mobile app for those who are Sabbath observant (Shomer Shabbos), but still want to use their smartphone. Called “Shabbos App”, he’s launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for its launch. Most people have thought it’s a joke, but Appel says it’s serious and has promised to show some rabbinic testimonials. Here’s the article about the “Shabbos App” from Haaretz.com:

Shabbat-observant Jews who can’t tame their cellphone addictions on Friday nights and Saturdays could soon have another option besides either totally unplugging or texting the same way they do every other day of the week: the controversial Shabbos App, whose founders are set to raise funds on Kickstarter.

 

Shabbos App

Shabbos App

 

In all but life-saving situations, use of electronics and even the ultimate dumbphone – the kind with an actual phone cord – is prohibited according to most mainstream Orthodox interpretations of religious law.

But that hasn’t stopped some digital natives in the Orthodox world from refusing to give their thumbs a rest, even on the sacred day of rest.

Shabbos App offers what its founders say is a way of circumventing the religious difficulties posed by Sabbath cellphone use in general and texting in particular, allowing inveterate texters to feed their habit without, say the app’s founders, violating Shabbat.

“Our main goal is to let people who are already texting on Shabbos know that they can text on Shabbos and not completely fall off the derekh,” app developer Yossi Goldstein of Colorado told the U.S. website Vosizneias, whose target readership is Orthodox Jews. “Falling off the derekh,” or “path,” is a common way of referring to Jews who stop practicing Orthodox ritual.

“Many people are already keeping a half-Shabbos because they find that they can’t get off their phones and they feel like once they are already breaking Shabbos they might as well give up on other mitzvos too,” said Goldstein, using the word for “commandments.” “Hopefully this will alleviate that.” Goldstein and the other developers identify as Orthodox Jews.

But the app, which was designed by California resident Yitz Appel and has a draft Kickstarter page that has yet to go live, will hardly be facing universal acceptance among Orthodox rabbis.

Even if the app resolves the religious problems relating to phone use on Saturday, texting on Shabbat “is very distasteful and not permissible on Shabbos,” Rabbi Moshe Elefant of the Orthodox Union told Vosizneias.

The Shabbos App website says those kinds of objections should not be reason enough to resist the app, which it says will be available on the App Store and Google Play for $49.99, starting on February 15. It plans to seek $25,000 on Kickstarter.

“In fact, there are lots of things that we, observant Jews keep today that are not based on anything other than some stringencies according to a very small number of opinions,” the site says. “Our goal is to change that and empower people with the knowledge that they can be good, fully observant Jews and still keep up with the times.”

[Source: Haaretz)

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Tech at Summer Camp: Will the Policy Change?

School is back in session in many parts of the country and that means the summer camp season has come to a close. With each passing summer, I try to evaluate the role that technology plays at sleep-away camp. It seems that each year more summer camps institute “screen free policies” concerning the use of technology and electronics at camp, but other camps are gradually relaxing their policies (e.g., letting staff keep a cellphone in their pockets during the day, not checking for campers’ Wi-Fi-enabled devices on trips out of camp, etc.). Last week I published the following piece on The Huffington Post’s website about technology and summer camp. It has already generated a lot of discussion about appropriate use of technology at summer camp and what the future might look like.

Sitting with my wife by the lake in Northern Michigan at the beginning of the summer I listened as the director of our family camp, Camp Michigania, recited the rules for the week. “One final thing we ask everyone to abide by,” he said to the assembled adults, “please keep your children from using any technology this week and try not to use your own cellphones and computers in public.” I noted the irony that he had just read his annual list of policies and procedures from his iPhone.

Is it hypocrisy when a camp director asks campers to unplug while being tethered to his own smartphone? I contemplated this from my spot on the beach watching my kids kayak and paddleboard as I tapped away at my notebook computer, enjoying the gorgeous surroundings as I put the finishing touches on a blog entry.

I am a techie, but I am also an advocate for summer camp. I respect those who believe that our kids should leave anything that requires a rechargeable battery at home before getting on the bus to sleep away camp — hard as that may be. But I also wonder if we’re setting ourselves up for failure. Just how far into the future will we be able to continue banning communication devices from these children of the digital age?

CONTINUE READING AT BLOG.RABBIJASON.COM

Summer-Camp-Technology-Rabbi-Jason

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Israeli Company Taboola Buys Perfect Market

Israeli company Taboola brings native to programmatic with its recent acquisition of Perfect Market. Taboola, the leading content discovery platform, today announced that it has acquired Perfect Market, a leading provider of digital publishing software solutions for driving traffic, engagement and revenue. Taboola’s expected annualized run-rate post-acquisition will reach approximately $250M. By combining Perfect Market’s programmatic advertising technology with Taboola’s global, industry-leading content distribution and monetization capabilities, Taboola will create a world-class content discovery platform that provides publishers with a “one-stop-shop” for full page monetization across all platforms. The new programmatic offering will be called “Taboola-X,” and will enhance Taboola’s existing paid-content offering.

“Early on, we identified a need by publishers for a consolidated solution, including both native placements in-feed and programmatic. Perfect Market has put together an impressive team as well as created superior programmatic technology, and together, we’ve teamed up to provide publishers with innovative solutions to help streamline all content and revenue efforts,” said Adam Singolda, founder and CEO of Taboola. “With Taboola-X and the introduction of full page monetization opportunities, publishers will be able to drive even stronger monetization results across all platforms with Taboola, and drive an exciting ROI back to content and journalism.” Prior to founding Taboola, Singolda developed his analytical skills while serving as an officer in an elite mathematical unit of the Israeli National Security Agency.

 

Taboola-publishers-screenThe acquisition supports Taboola and Perfect Market’s shared mission to help publishers engage consumers as well as generate revenue. The combined solution will provide publishers with the ability to monetize IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) standard size ad units on their websites by delivering the right sponsored message to users in real-time.

Magna Global projects that U.S. programmatic ad spending will reach $9.8 billion this year. Globally, Display is projected to grow to $51.8 billion with overall Internet advertising spend reaching $121 billion. The Perfect Market transaction, Taboola’s first acquisition, will help to accelerate programmatic native advertising growth overall in the market.

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Bomb Gaza Video Game Gets Shot Down from Google AppStore

Google removed from its app store — Google Play — a mobile game that simulates Israeli attacks on Gaza. “Bomb Gaza” lets video game players drop bombs and try to avoid killing civilians. The game got the axe from Google this week after a public backlash, said the Guardian newspaper.

Bomb Gaza Game Google

PlayFTW developed the game in which players drop bombs from a fighter jet and dodge missiles from Hamas fighters. “We remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies,” a spokesman for Google told Reuters without specifying which policy the game violated. The game, which is still available on Facebook, has been downloaded about 1,000 times and generated angry comments on Facebook and Google Play app review pages since launching July 29, the Guardian reported.

“Please take this off the Play store. It is offensive and I am really let down that Google actually allowed this,” Oma Al, a user, wrote on the game’s review page, according to the Guardian. “If this game isn’t removed I’m starting a Google boycott.”

“Bomb Gaza” is not the only mobile game on Google’s app store that references the Israel-Gaza conflict, the Guardian reported. Others include “Gaza Assault: Code Red” and “Iron Dome.”

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Israel’s Tech Scene Is Having A Banner Week Despite Horrific Israel-Palestinian Violence

By Armin Rosen

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has sent shockwaves through the Middle East and the broader world, but the hostilities have left one aspect of life in Israel curiously untouched: the Israeli tech sector.
The four weeks since Hamas members kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank — a period which has included the war in Gaza, major protests in the West Bank, and occasional rocket fire from southern Lebanon — have been historically fruitful for Israeli tech. As Bloomberg News noted, investors pumped nearly $600 million into Israeli tech companies between June 12 and July 24, more than twice the amount as during the preceding six-week period.

This week also marks the largest-ever American initial public offering by an Israeli company.

mobileye-israel-tech-company

Mobileye, a Jerusalem-based company that makes camera and navigational systems for cars, is expected to raise over $600 million in an IPO this week. And the company’s future seems bright, considering that noted serial entrepreneur Elon Musk is planning on using some of its products in a proposed model of driverless car.

Mobileye isn’t the only Israeli company going public in the U.S. this week. Three Israel-based biotechnology firms are also having their IPOs, and two of them have a projected market capitalization of over $250 million each.

The Gaza hostilities have had an impact on various sectors of the Israeli economy. Most notably, funders for the Leviathan natural gas project off of the Israeli coast have indicated the conflict will delay an over $6 billion investment in what is expected to become one of Israel’s major industries. Over 1,000 factories and farms have lost productivity or stockpiles of perishable goods since the conflict began, with industrial losses alone calculated at around $200 million.

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Can We Have a Virtual Minyan With Skype?

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). Knowing my interest in technology, he picked my brain about some of the technical implications of video-conferencing. He sought to answer the halakhic (Jewish legal) question of whether a minyan could be convened using non-traditional, electronic means. Some of the sources he was considering were drawn from the same pages we were then studying in his class, namely Tractate Rosh Hashanah as it deals with hearing the sound of the shofar to fulfill the obligation.

Rabbi Reisner’s project resulted in a teshuva (legal position paper) titled “Wired to the Kadosh Baruch Hu,” in which he ruled that a virtual minyan conducted via video-conferencing was not “kosher.”

The full text of the teshuva is available online. I encourage you to read it, but I have summarized it below before making some comments on his conclusions. I hope to elicit some feedback about both Rabbi Reisner’s understanding of the “virtual minyan” and my commentary on his teshuva.

internet_minyan_rabbi_jasonRabbi Reisner’s initial questions are the following:

1) May one pray over the Internet?
2) May one constitute a minyan over the Internet?
3) May one constitute a minyan through e-mail or in chat rooms only with a real-time audio or video connection?
4) May one constitute a minyan through telephone or video conferences?

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Benjamin Levy of eduCanon Wins 1776’s Challenge Cup Competition

Benjamin Levy, the Jewish founder of eduCanon was one of four young entrepreneurs who won 1776’s Challenge Cup competition, which brings regulators and disruptors together. Benjamin Levy’s company eduCanon was a winner in the education category. eduCanon is an online learning environment to build and share interactive video lessons.

Barely six months after it opened its doors in D.C., 1776—a collaborative workspace for startups—announced an eight-month-long quest for the best ideas to revolutionize health, energy, education and urban planning.

 

eduCanon-Swaroop Raju Benjamin Levy

eduCanon’s founders Swaroop Raju and Benjamin Levy

The group’s Challenge Cup was open to U.S. as well as international participants with 16 preliminary rounds taking place in seven American cities (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Austin, Denver and San Francisco) and eight abroad (Moscow, Berlin, London, Sao Paulo, Cape Town, Tel Aviv, Beijing and New Delhi). The Challenge Cup finals and the culminating week-long Challenge Festival were held in the nation’s capital in May.

With thousands of national and international participants competing in four different sectors, the easiest way to wrap your brain around the Challenge Cup may be to think of a March Madness college basketball bracket. 1776 received a total of 5,000 applications from startups in what Co-founder Donna Harris describes as “hard-to-change” regulated industries that need to be “reinvented” and 64 were selected to present during the finals.

The 64 competing groups which traveled to D.C. were comprised of the top four from each regional city round. From there, an “elite eight” competed for the ultimate startup prize package: a chance at a$150,000 investment, exhibitor space at the 2015 International CES® and support from 1776 and its swath of partners. The three remaining category winners are each eligible for a $100,000 investment, as well as exhibitor space at CES. The founders of the four Challenge Cup winners—CancerIQ, Plugsurfing, eduCannon and Grand Prize winner HandUp—are featured in this issue as “The Faces of Innovation.”

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Jewish Techs: The Jewish Technology Blog

This blog looks at how modern technology affects Jewish life, particularly the impact of the Internet on Jews across the globe. The Internet has made the Jewish community seem smaller. The Jewish Techs blog, written by blogger Rabbi Jason Miller (The Techie Rabbi), explores the places where Jewish culture, education and faith intersect with technology. Of course, like anything, Jews will continue to ask if technology is good or bad for the Jews – the age old question of our people. Good or bad, it is undisputed that technology has changed Jewish life. If you’re Jewish or interested in technology or both… you’ll enjoy the conversation. Thanks for reading the Jewish Techs blog.

The Techie Rabbi – Rabbi Jason Miller

Rabbi Jason Miller, the Techie RabbiJason Miller is NOT your typical rabbi. Known as the Techie Rabbi, he launched Access Computer Technology in 2010 and has grown it into a full-scale technology firm that provides social media marketing consulting and web design in addition to IT support. Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary a decade ago, Rabbi Jason has made a name for himself as a popular blogger, social media expert, educator and entrepreneur. Based in Detroit, his congregation includes more than a million people who read his blog and follow him in Cyberspace. He began the Jewish Techs blog in January 2010 as the New York Jewish Week's technology expert.

An entrepreneurial rabbi and an alum of Clal's "Rabbi Without Borders" fellowship, Jason Miller is a rabbi and thought leader whose personal blog has been viewed by millions. The Detroit Free Press called him “the most tech-savvy Jewish leader" and the Huffington Post ranked him among the top Jewish Twitter users in the world. A social media expert, Rabbi Jason is a popular speaker and writer on technology and its effect on the Jewish world. He writes the "Jewish Techs" blog for The Jewish Week and the monthly "Jews in the Digital Age" column for the Detroit Jewish News.

Miller won the 2012 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce and is one of the winners of a Jewish Influencer award from the National Jewish Outreach Program.

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