Last updated September 30th 2014
This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
Even the Jewish High Holy Days with their soul-searching don’t escape the grasp of high tech. While millions of Jews will be turning their heads and hearts upwards towards heaven, some will also be stealing downward glances, checking out their smartphones for some repentance-inspiring apps. And not surprisingly, they’re out there to be found. A group called G-dcast help users learn more about their Jewish heritage. The eScapegoat app lets them admit their failures to live up to that heritage.
No worries, though — the newly educated sinners will be able to virtually repent by throwing their sins away, via the iPhone Tashlich app.
The G-dcast folks, G-d bless them, have made it their goal “to give every Jewish child and adult the chance to learn the basics with zero barriers to entry. No matter where you live or what you know, we have meaningful, intelligent and fun Jewish learning for you.”
Emphasis on the “fun,” based on the apps on the G-dcast site, includes selections such as “Wake Up World,” (iOS/Android; free) a Rosh Hashanah tale for little kids narrated by Randi Zuckerberg, sister of of Facebook CEO and Chairman Mark Zuckerberg. Arkscape (iOS only; free) is a card matching game that “shares some teachings about the story of Noah in creative ways” (you have to help Noah match up the animals before their ‘poop’ takes over the ark). And the The Five eBooks of Moses (iOS only; free) is an app that could be helpful to any newcomer to traditional Judaism, regardless of age — with 55 short animated videos that bring to life the words on the pages of the Bible.
Beyond the apps, G-dcast produces curriculum material being used by more than 4,000 teachers and educators, and its videos on all sorts of Jewish-related topics have garnered 1.5 million views on YouTube. Led by Sarah Lefton, a pioneer in the digital Jewish world, G-dcast started its work in 2008 and includes top staff from companies such as Apple, Pixar, the New York Times, SF Bay Guardian, Village Voice, and a variety of Hollywood production companies.
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