For his 20th app, Rabbi Eli Garfinkel has gotten practical.
Rabbi Garfinkel, the religious leader of Temple Beth El of Somerset, spends his spare time developing Jewish-themed apps for smartphones. He has two designed to teach the trope notation used to chant the Torah. “Treyf Invaders” lets users shoot flying animal heads, being careful to distinguish between the kosher and
His latest app, though, already has started to make a difference. It’s Quorum+, which helps users quickly organize a minyan.
Say you are a few people shy of the 10 needed for one of the three daily prayer services. The app administrator can send out an alert.
“The minyan leader posts the number of people needed through the app,” Rabbi Garfinkel explained. “If you’re home and you look at the app, you can see there are six, seven, nine, or whatever needed and can add your name via text message. The leader then sends out a special message with the address.”
The free app, which launched February 3 on iTunes, already is being used by 30 congregations nationally. The feedback Rabbi Garfinkel is getting has been overwhelmingly positive.
While iTunes doesn’t let him find out the names of the synagogues using Quorum+, Rabbi Garfinkel knows that they are all Conservative. He noted he hasn’t yet had a chance to market the app outside his own movement. It is available only for iPhones, but if it catches on, Rabbi Garfinkel said, “I’ll figure out how to make it available on Android.”
Rabbi Garfinkel said he created the app “because like all rabbis, I’ve been in the situation where we’ve had nine people and that 10th isn’t coming. As we all know, the difference between nine and 10 to say kaddish is huge.”
Rabbi Garfinkel said the app is useful for shivah and weekday morning minyans. “Most congregations don’t have a problem getting a minyan on Shabbat,” he said.
“It’s my hobby and it’s fun,” Rabbi Garfinkel said of his high-tech activity. “It pays me enough to cover the costs, maybe a little more. I think it’s important for rabbis to have outside interests. All work and no play makes for a dull rabbi.”
New Jersey Jewish News