Monday, October 06, 2014

New ‘Kaddish’ App Instructs and Inspires Mourners 

The Yizkor (remembrance) service on Yom Kippur, in which special prayers are said in memory of the departed, may be the most well-attended synagogue service on the Jewish calendar. And throughout the night and day of Yom Kippur, there will be resounding sounds of amen to mourners saying Kaddish for those who have passed.

Yet with unfamiliar words containing as many as five syllables, the Kaddish has long challenged mourners who wish to honor the memory of their loved ones, but are intimidated by the prospects of chanting the formula in public.

Perhaps the best known of all Jewish mourning practices, the Kaddish prayer is recited by surviving relatives as a merit to the soul of the departed, both at the funeral and then again during prayer services for the next 11 months, as well as on the anniversary of the passing.

Composed in ancient Aramaic—the Jewish vernacular two millennia ago—the Kaddish expresses the hope for the manifestation of G‑d’s presence on earth.

As an aid to the mourner, Chabad.org’s development team has released a new app—the “Kaddish Assistant”—that gently guides the mourner through the process of saying Kaddish and more.

According to Dov Dukes, lead developer of Chabad.org’s app team, the centerpiece of the new app is the audio-visual trainer that assists students by highlighting each word—in Hebrew characters, transliteration and translation—as it is chanted aloud in a clear, easy-to-follow voice. It has three speeds and offers Ashkenazic, Sephardic and Chabad versions of both the basic Mourner’s Kaddish and the longer Rabbis’ Kaddish.

Kaddish is recited for 11 months after a person passes and then again on his or her yahrtzeit, the anniversary of the passing. Since the Hebrew calendar functions differently than its Gregorian counterpart, the app calculates and stores yahrtzeit dates, helping users track upcoming Kaddish dates, and reminds users of upcoming yahrtzeits via push notifications. It even allows them to share the information with others, inviting them to attend synagogue services with them via email and social media.

Help at Your Fingertips

Drawing on Chabad.org’s vast online library, the app offers user-friendly information, as well as inspirational articles and guides on Kaddish.

For those looking for a synagogue in which to say Kaddish, the app harnesses Chabad.org’s find-a-center service to locate nearby congregations with ease. And should a question arise, a click of a button puts the user in contact with Chabad.org’s “Ask the Rabbi” team.

The “Kaddish Assistant” joins Chabad.org’s Jewish Apps Suite, leveraging the website’s abundance of content by incorporating it into interactive apps. Through the vision and generosity of a group of funders, the “Kaddish Assistant” joins the Passover Assistant app, “Jewish.tv” video app, the “Shabbat Times” app, a JewishKids.org app for children and others—all designed to help bring Jewish wisdom, tools and support to the fingertips of users. Additional apps are in the planning and developmental stages by an international Chabad.org team.

The drive, vision for and underwriting of the apps, which are available free of charge, come from the generous partnership of Dovid and Malkie Smetana, Alan and Lori Zekelman, the Meromim Fund, and Moris and Lillian Tabacinic—all of whom are dedicated to spreading the wisdom and practice of Judaism worldwide.

The new app will be fully functional in seven languages—Spanish, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese and Russian—in addition to its current English-language version.

The app is available free of charge for Android devices on Google's Play Store; and will soon be available for iOS devices at Apple’s App Store.


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