By Menachem Posner, Chabad.org
Perhaps one of the most difficult mitzvahs to fulfill properly is the counting of the Omer, which requires that each sequential day be counted (after nightfall) without missing a day—from the second night of Passover all the way until the eve of Shavuot.
In addition to remembering to count on each of 49 consecutive nights, the counter needs to verbalize that night’s count and the corresponding Kabbalistic formula—all that before daybreak, or at least before sunset the following evening.
Chabad.org’s app development team has found a novel way to assist with its newly released “Omer Counter” app. In addition to daily reminders, a live counter tells the user how much time remains for counting that day.
Highly customizable, the app—with texts in Hebrew and English—tracks the user’s counting record and can then produce the appropriate text for that person (since a person who misses one night may no longer include the special blessing before counting on the subsequent nights that year).
For the novice just foraying into the intricacies of Hebrew reading, the app features a trainer that assists students by highlighting each word as it is chanted, allowing them to familiarize themselves with the Hebrew at their own pace. Supported on mobile devices and tablets, it is ideal for those learning while they are on the move.
Lead developer Dov Dukes notes that the technology for the trainer is built on Chabad.org’s “Torah Trainer,” which now includes all 54 Torah portions, their Haftarahs, and the blessings recited before and after the readings.
“Omer Counter” joins Chabad.org’s Jewish Apps Suite in strategically leveraging Chabad.org’s content and know-how to other platforms.
Through the vision and generosity of a group of funders, the “Omer” app joins the “Hayom” app, the “Passover Assistant,” the “Jewish.tv” video app, the “Shabbat Times” app, a JewishKids.org app for children and others—all designed to help bring Jewish wisdom and tools 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 dedicated to spreading the wisdom and practice of Judaism worldwide.
“The possibilities in app development for a Jewish audience are virtually endless,” says Chabad.org’s managing director, Rabbi Meir Simcha Kogan, “and we are determined to implement the drive and vision of our generous partners and our staff to use the best practices and highest standards in leveraging these technologies for strengthening Jewish awareness and observance.”