Last year with the generous support of the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund we began development of PocketTorah, a mobile application and website, with the goal of providing anyone the ability to learn the weekly Torah and Haftarah portion anywhere, at any time, on any mobile device or computer for free.
We released our Trope training app a few weeks ago, but today, after 150 hours of coding, 31.7 hours of recorded audio, three pre-alpha releases, and more all-nighters than we’d like to admit we’re happy to announce that the completed version of the app can be downloaded for free at the Apple Store (for iOS devices) & Google Play (for Android devices). In addition to the versions created for iPad, iPhone, iPod & Android devices, we’ve also released a web version of the application that can be viewed in Apple Safari or Google Chrome on any desktop or laptop computer. This means that in addition to being in your pocket, PocketTorah can be used in classrooms on interactive whiteboards, or any other computer or device that’s capable of running the web browser.
The full application includes:
- The entire text of the Torah and Haftarah in Hebrew and translation.
- On Demand Audio- With a simple click or touch of any Hebrew verse, the corresponding Hebrew with proper trope is chanted, while the corresponding text is highlighted.
- Tikkun View – With simple swipe of the finger 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.
- A Commentary Module that contains various commentaries from JTS, HUC, the OU, Torah.org and others.
But that’s not all. Today, we’re not only releasing the completed app for free, we’re also releasing all of the creative content. The audio files and their corresponding meta-data are being released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, and the source code for the project will be released under the GNU GPL3. This means that anyone can take these files remix, tweak, and build upon them so long you credit us and license your new creations under the same identical terms. This will give coders, artists, educators, and others the opportunity to take our work and build upon it, rather than having to simply start from scratch if they want to achieve something similar.
We’re doing this because we care about Jewish learning. But we also hope that a side effect of creating a tool that gives Jews the ability to interact with their sacred texts, will simultaneously demonstrate the viability open source Jewish software development.
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.
So if you have an iOS or Android device, download the apps, if not, play with it in your web browser here. And please let us know what you think, if you find any bugs, or if you use our creative content in any interesting ways.