Jewish Developers And Mobile Phone Apps For Jews: Judaism in the Modern Software Age [Video]

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With technology and the internet moving as fast as it is, almost anything is now available at the touch of a button of a click of a mouse. Which is why some companies are now producing apps for phones and other mobile devices that promote Judaism and make it more accessible to anyone where ever they are.

Ronnie and Barry Schwartz are at the forefront of Judaism’s digital age. Good at spotting a potential market, they’ve been drawing on their Jewish roots to create apps for cell phones and tablets. The idea, to make Judaism more mobile. From humble beginnings the business has grown considerably. Ronnie started it in his bedroom 15 years ago while he was still in high school.

Now they make market-leading apps with hundreds of thousands of users worldwide in the rapidly expanding software sector. This map pinpoints where in the world people are using their programmes at any given time. They’ve made more than 30 Jewish apps, everything from finding a kosher restaurant to learning the Talmud or something more basic like the alphabet for Jewish children. Mayer Pasternak also understands the added value technology can provide. He’s behind Artscroll, which lets users access all 73 volumes of the Talmud through a single app. He thinks mobile technology is not just augmenting traditional learning, it’s actually changing the way people learn.

Indeed developers believe apps like these are better than books, as they allow users to see more than just words on a page. But many ultra-Orthodox Jews are against the internet, with some rabbinic leaders forbidding it all together, feeling it threatens Judaism. Ronnie at Rusty Brick disagrees. Indeed some parts of their apps do not function on Saturdays, to make sure users observe the Shabbat. This technology is allowing a faith steeped in tradition to change with the world around it. It’s a strange mix between old traditional values and new modern technology. But it seems to be working. And many analysts agree it’s helping to grow and promote the Jewish faith.

Nick Harper, JN1, New York.

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