iBless Food

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There is a mitzvah in Jewish tradition to say blessings whilst performing even the simplest activities such as:  eating, washing hands, falling asleep or getting up. Differently than in other religious traditions, the blessing is not to highlight the uniqueness of a situation (although there are such blessings as the ones which we say by extraordinary nature phenomena – when we can see a rainbow or hear a thunder).

Blessing is a thanksgiving, it is to emphasize the special relation between man saying it and their Creator and owner of everything in this world that people use.

A great attention in Jewish tradition is drawn to the study of blessings. It is no wonder, therefore, that applications teaching blessings were among the first Jewish apps for iPhone, just to mention only the few like: KosherMe (by Dushan Wegner) and  Say-A-Blessing (Zalman Goldstein from Jewish Learning Group, Inc.).  Siddur by RustyBrick contains blessings (as do most of prayer books ).

The newest app from Davka Corp. “iBless Food” is, in its intention, very similar to “Say-A-Blessing”:  both of these applications contain lists of food and assigned blessings to each food, said before and after a meal. Both apps are enriched by an audio track. This is the point where resemblance ends.

“Say-A-Blessing” is, on one hand, a kind of electronic toy from the 80’s which was adapted to the new technology, on the other hand, it is an advertisement of publishing and products of Jewish Learning Group, Inc. This particular app was among the first Jewish apps to be created with iPhone in mind. The operating system of this device didn’t support Hebrew at that time, so we won’t find a Hebrew text there but only transliterations and translations. After all, it’s not bad for a start.

Davka’s “iBless Food” is an application by far more complete , aimed only at educating. It is divided into four sections: Food, Blessings, Quiz and About.

Food – it is a scrollable list of more than 380 different foods, including appetizers, main courses, fruits, vegetables, snacks and desserts. How it works? When the desired food is selected, the blessing name appears on screen. It can be read in Hebrew or in transliteration. You can get to this part of application by a tap onto the name of the next section – Blessings. Following the tradition we can find here food divided into six categories (Ha’adama, Ha’etz, Ha’gefen, Ha’motzi, Mezonot and Shehakol) and blessings assigned for before and after a meal. And again, an additional tap will display the full text of the blessing in Hebrew and English transliteration. The blessing is chanted, slowly and clearly (but not artificially), and each word is highlighted on the screen. The most interesting part of this application is the full text of Birkat HaMazon chanted by the choir.

The next part of the application is Quiz: “What blessings should be used with different kinds of food”. Great fun for beginners, but not only just that. I assure you that even the most frum guys will, among this rich set of mixed dishes, find something that will make them have thoughts at least for a second … and the time is running. The last section is About – it gives additional information about the laws, customs and practices of the blessings. The following advantage of this application is its clear interface with legible and simple navigation between sections.

iBless Food is an excellent  lookup guide for the study of the basics of blessings. It is helpful as well, for the people who want to broaden their knowledge on the part of Jewish religious practices.

Because of  its over 100 titles of Judaic software in the areas of Jewish history, customs and traditions, Hebrew language, the emergence of Davka Corporation among the group of mobile device apps developers is a very good sign for the users. “iBless Food” is the company’s third application following  “iGematria”  and “iBless Torah”.  We can definitely expect new apps shortly.

by Robert Pass

Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad

Category: Education
Released: May 02, 2010
Publisher: Davka Corporation
Price: $4.99 (buy app)

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