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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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.