By Nicole Neroulias
Religion News Service
Wednesday, March 24, 2010; 10:52 AM
Preparing for Passover? There's an app for that. Several, actually.
Jewish technophiles have created a host of online and iPhone applications that put a modern spin on the traditional Seder meals, storytelling and singing associated with the weeklong celebration of the biblical exodus from Egypt.
To help Jews stock their pantries with kosher for Passover foods, which cannot contain yeast, a new iPhone app called My Grocery Master searches supermarket inventories by zip code. The program debuted to mixed reviews over its $4.99 annual fee and selection limitations, but improvements have been made in response to user feedback.
"We will continually be updating our database with new products and tailoring the application for more diet types," said Steven M. Friedman, MyGroceryMaster.com president, whose program can also find groceries that are vegan, organic, gluten- and lactose-free.
The iMah Nishtanah app helps users ask the ceremonial four questions in perfect Hebrew, with a record mode that lets them rehearse the readings and songs before going public at the Seder.
"Mobile devices are a perfect platform for language acquisition," said Jeremy Poisson of Behrman House, a publishing house that helped develop this and other Hebrew programs. "The mobility allows users to learn, play, or practice anywhere." Even the plagues have gone viral, thanks to a group of rabbis using Twitter to tell the Passover story through messages from characters such as God--of--Israel, Slavedrivers, and PharoahofEgypt, with dialogue and links tailored for the program's 140-character limit.
More than 1,100 followers have signed up to receive "Tweet the Exodus" updates, which will culminate with the crossing of the Red Sea on Monday, just before the first Passover meal begins.
After seeing the Nile's water turn to blood, the skies rain down frogs, lice and flies, and their cattle drop dead, citizensofegypt responded to the ancient plague of "unhealable boils" with a sly nod to current events: "Our skin is boiling; turn up the AC! Oh no, that's not helping. . . If only Pharoah provided universal health care. . ." For more information, visit www.twitter.com/tweettheexodus.