Mobile Apps for Bentching and Studying Torah
Apple’s downloadable mobile apps are more popular now. So it makes sense that there has been a wave of new applications created for these devices. Some are good and useful, while others… well, let’s just say I’m not going to take the time to write a bad review.
Rabbi Eli Garfinkel, now calling himself “The App-ter Rebbe,” has announced the publication of a new commentary on the Torah for Apple’s iOS devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
Garfinkel, who previously published the well-received hard-copy Torah commentary “Mikraot Ramah,” for use at Jewish summer camps, now adds “Mayim La-Eidah” to the App Store. Mayim La-Eidah is a Torah commentary and discussion app to supplement the study of the weekly Torah portion. This current week’s installment includes 23 Divrei Torah (commentaries) on the Torah portion and 17 discussion questions to be used for sermons, adult education, and youth programming. If reading material on a screen isn’t your cup of tea, or if using these electronic devices doesn’t sit well with you on Shabbat, just tap the “Send Me A PDF” button in the lower-right hand corner. You’ll receive a printer-friendly PDF in your email, and you are free to photocopy it for educational purposes. The commentary includes material for laypeople and professionals alike. Installments only cost 99 cents and can be downloaded here.
Another useful app for the Chosen People is iBirkat. This is a Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals) application for the iPhone. This app, created by the Jerusalem-based development firm appSTUDIO, is a free app without ads that is being released as a public service.
Currently this is the only benscher app that is on the market as the other apps for the Apple family of devices that include the Birkat Hamazon text are not focused solely on Birkat Hamazon, but rather include it along with other texts and features. With iBirkat there’s no need to navigate through an entire Siddur to find the Birkat Hamazon. iBirkat has an elegant scroll view as opposed to static page views and takes advantage of the accelerometer and adjusts the text to the adequate screen position.
This app was developed when members of the team realized that the only time they found themselves using an iPhone Siddur app was to recite the Birkat Hamazon. They saw the need for clean, convenient and quick access to the text of Birkat Hamazon. iBirkat is free and available for download at the Apple app store online.
A new app recently released for the iPad is Totally Tanakh, a joint project of RedleX and the Davka Corporation. Totally Tanakh lets you browse, search and study the Hebrew Bible and features crisp Hebrew text with precise placement of Hebrew vowels and cantillation marks, and verse-by-verse synchronization between Hebrew, English, and Rashi’s commentary. This app includes the Hebrew text and English translation of the entire Bible plus the Hebrew text of Rashi on Torah with vowels. This app has great search capability and easy navigation. I also liked the bookmarking feature and the ability to view the Rashi commentary and the Hebrew text in parallel columns.