PocketTorah: Coming Soon to Pockets Near You!

[This is the first in a nine-part series describing the projects of the 2011-2012 Jewish New Media Innovation Fund Award Recipients.]

by Russel Neiss and Charlie Schwartz

Imagine an app that allows you to have the chanting of every Torah portion, every haftorah portion and every trope system on your smart phone or mobile device. Now imagine that app being totally free. That’s what PocketTorah is.

Our hope for PocketTorah is that it will be used in a variety of ways by a diverse set of populations. We hope that independent minyanim, Hillels and congregations will use it as a tool to expand the number of Torah readers in their ranks. We hope bar and bat mitzvah students will use it to help perfect their synagogue skills as they approach adulthood. But most importantly, we hope Jews who would have never before thought of reading from our sacred texts will be empowered and inspired to do so.

What this application will do is dramatically lower the barrier for meaningful participation in one of Judaism’s most ancient, holy and technical rituals – the reading of our sacred text. At its core, this platform is a tool for empowering individuals and affording them an opportunity to harness their newfound abilities to strengthen their communities and take ownership of their ritual experiences.

The app will include:

  1. A trope training module for Torah and Haftarah;
  2. The entire text of the Torah and Haftarah in Hebrew and translation;
  3. On Demand Audio – With a simple click or touch of any Hebrew word, verse, aliyah or parshah, the corresponding Hebrew with proper trope is chanted, while the corresponding text is highlighted;
  4. Tikkun View – Users can choose whether they want to see the Hebrew as vowelized, text or as it appears in the Torah with crowns and without vowels;
  5. A Commentary module – This will initially be pre-populated with basic parshah summaries, but we will also create a standard for Torah commentaries that will allow for future commentaries to be embedded in the application or anywhere else on the web as people create them; and
  6. A social media function, enabling users to easily post to Facebook and Twitter “I learned Parashat X.”

Oh, and did we mention it’s free?

Visit our website, subscribe to our blog feed at pockettorah.com, and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter so you’ll know when the app is released for your mobile device!

PocketTorah is a project of MediaMidrash.org, an educational technology venture that seeks to raise the quality of Jewish learning by offering easy access to 21st century multimedia technologies. Founded in 2009 by Charlie Schwartz and Russel Neiss, MediaMidrash.org is rapidly expanding its projects and vision for the future of Jewish living and learning. Find out more about us, our projects and our vision at MediaMidrash.org.

cross-posted at JewishNewMediaFund.org