New Media Rules: Favorite holiday apps

Over the past few years, online applications and platforms relating to the Jewish high Holy Days have exploded.

Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs 370 (photo credit: Screenshot)
Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs 370
(photo credit: Screenshot)
If you haven’t already sent out your Rosh Hashana greeting cards, do not fear: Thanks to the growing digital greeting card market, you still have plenty of time and a multitude of options.
While sending e-cards via various websites has been a popular way to send an instantaneous greeting for several years now, this year there are several new options that have taken the e-greeting phenomenon one step further by incorporating social media platforms as an option for disseminating your New Year good wishes.
One option comes from the Ministry of Diplomacy and Public Affairs, which last week announced a new, more modern spin on the classic Israeli “shana tova” cards.
The glitter-embellished cards featuring simple drawings of children eating apples and honey or a shofar adorned with flowers were once sold only from makeshift stalls at the country’s key marketplaces. I remember visiting Israel as a child and helping my parents stock up on them to send out ahead of the holidays.
Click for more JPost High Holy Day features
Click for more JPost High Holy Day features
Now those images, which many people associate with the early years of the Jewish state, have been transported into the digital age – and even those with limited Internet experience will find it easy to work though the ministry’s card-sending system to fill in their personal details to email the card to relatives and friends or have it automatically posted on their Facebook pages.
Available in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Russian, Dutch and Italian, the ministry’s cards are inscribed with the words: “And your children shall return to their borders: A peaceful and happy New Year to you and to the whole Jewish People. A year of peace and security.”
Users can also include their own personal greeting in the body of the email that accompanies the card.
If you want to send something beyond the traditional greeting cards, it’s worth visiting the American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) Facebook page and clicking on the “JDC Holiday Hub.”
The initiative offers delectable holiday recipes from Jewish communities around the globe, such as honey cookies from Argentina; apples with cider, nuts and honey from Russia; Serbian Rosh Hashana honey cake and pkalia, or beef stew, from Tunisia – each of which can be downloaded or sent to relatives as a kind holiday gesture.
AS WELL as sending out holiday greetings and other special packages, an increasing number of applications and digital platforms have sprung up in recent years to mark and educate about the High Holy Days in general.
Of course, there is no shortage of websites offering scholarly, religious and historic information about these festivals, as well as guidelines on how to understand or follow the various traditions and customs.
However, now, with the invent of “apps” downloadable to portable devices such as tablets and mobile phones, interactive platforms relating to Rosh Hashana (try the “Shofar for iPhone” if listening to it only on the High Holy Days is just not enough for you), Yom Kippur and Succot are certainly on the rise.
One such app is Jewish Interactive’s “Sukkah Challenge,” a downloadable educational game that explores the basic roots and meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles.
The app, which is available at the organization’s website for free or for a small fee, is set to be released this week.
The game involves two cartoon characters stuck in a desert, who can only survive by building a succa, just like the Jews did when leaving Egypt. Players can choose to explore a variety of Torah sources about the significance of a succa, why they are built and how. They then search through various rooms for the essential materials used to build the succa, purchasing them and then dragging them back into the game in order to build their own huts.
Developers say that while everything is presented in a lighthearted and entertaining way, the game is very educational and packed with information.
This is not the first Jewish app designed by the nonprofit organization, which has offices in South Africa, London and New York. In addition, the group has developed educational software focusing on other tenets of Judaism.
So, whether you are looking to express your wishes for a happy New Year to loved ones or searching for a way to help your children understand the significance of these holy days, it’s worth checking in on the digital media front.