7 smartphone apps to make life easier for religious Jews

Seven useful downloads for those who lead — or wish to lead — a more observant Jewish life.

By JOSEFIN DOLSTEN/JTA
May 11, 2017 12:20
2 minute read.
iphone 6

Apple's iPhone 6 (R) and iPhone 6 Plus.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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These days there are smartphone applications for pretty much anything, from ordering food to finding a date to reporting anti-Semitic incidents.

But what about tools for living a religious Jewish life? Well, there are apps for that, too.

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Whereas in the time before smartphones, observant Jews may have had to ask their rabbis certain questions or — gasp! — read a book, now there are apps available that can help with everything from putting on tefillin correctly to finding the nearest kosher eatery.

Here are seven useful downloads for those who lead — or wish to lead — a more observant Jewish life.

Tefillin Mirror
: The rules regarding how to put on tefillin can be confusing — for example, the head phylactery has to line up in the middle of the wearer’s forehead and it also has to stay above the hairline. This app functions as a mirror with three vertical lines that help the user properly align the tefillin.

Minyan Now: Time to pray but can’t find a synagogue? This app alerts Jews that someone nearby is looking for a minyan (the quorum of 10 people required to say certain prayers). Users can chat to coordinate a meeting place as they wait for 10 people — men in this case, as the app follows Orthodox customs — to respond.

Shabbat & Holiday Times
: Need to know when to light the Shabbat or holiday candles? This app shows the start and end times of Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Users can enter any location in the world or allow the app to access their phone’s location for accurate times.

Kosher Near Me
: This app is perfect for travelers or anyone looking to explore new kosher options closer to home. Users can peruse kosher food selections — restaurants, grocery stores and takeout — around the world, including in the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, France, Ecuador, Gibraltar and South Korea. Listings also include reviews written by users.

Smart Siddur: The days of schlepping around prayer books are long gone thanks to this app. This high-tech siddur features the three daily prayers and services for various Jewish holidays in a clean, easy-to-read interface. It syncs with the Jewish calendar, displaying holiday-specific prayers on the appropriate days so users need not worry about forgetting any special liturgy.

Sefaria: Now it’s easy to study Jewish texts on the go. Sefaria, which was created by the website of the same name, offers a library of works, including the Torah, Talmud and Midrash, as well as Kabbalah, philosophy and a multitude of commentaries. Texts are available in Hebrew and English, and users can search the entire library for specific words or phrases.

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@TheKotel: Jews from around the world visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem to pray. With this app, users can leave a prayer at the holy site without having to leave their homes. Electronically sent prayers are printed out and placed in crevices at the holy site, as is the custom.

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