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The Haggadah Meets the iPad

bronfman1The late philanthropist, author, and business leader, Edgar Bronfman, with his wife, artist Jan Aronson, created the Bronfman Haggadah last year. It is now available as a downloadable app for the iPad and other platforms.

Imagine sitting at your seder, paging through the hagaddah on your iPad, letting it lead you through the songs, listening to actors read from the telling/story.

Jan Aronson said, ‘We were able to add some animation, which adds surprises every now and again as you turn the virtual pages. It also includes a glossary of terms. Edgar used many Haggadahs over the decades and mixed and matched, and he would add commentaries and stories, so he decided to write his own, in a way that was open and inclusive to all Jews and all parts of Judaism, for believers and non-believers… Edgar and I also made some changes. For example, why do we open the door for Elijah and strangers at the end of the meal, when all we have are leftovers. Our haggadah opens the door at the start when the children are most alert and learn the most important lesson. Also, Edgar did not stop the story at the Red Sea. He wanted the story of wandering to be part of the telling. We also added an illustrated map of Goshen ,a biblical map, and also five possible locations (or non location) of Mt Sinai.’

bronfman2Do iPads and iPhones belong at a seder? Aronson said, “It is a non issue.” She added, people check their phones, texts, and e-mails at seders and dinners anyway. This app will give them a reason to use their devices. It’s an option.

We get a sense of just how monumental it was that this baby was saved,” Dana Raucher, the executive director of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, told JNS.org. Edgar Bronfman and Aronson wanted “to get this app out to audiences that are not necessarily visiting bookstores or buying hardcover books,” according to Raucher.

The leaders at Bronfman Associates said that they were mostly thinking of younger audiences, to which this app is geared – people who are transient, on the move between cities, residing in college dorms, and not necessarily lugging haggadahs and books around with them from place to place. Dana Raucher, the executive director of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation said that the app appeals to those who are not visiting bookstores, but are curious about Jewish tradition and contemporary rituals.

A burning bush, or perhaps a bright sun behind a bush that gives the appearance of burning

A burning bush, or perhaps a bright sun behind a bush that gives the appearance of burning

The app was designed by RustyBrick, based in West Nyack, NY, the designers of Shul Cloud, OnlySimchas, the Android Siddur, and more. (they are hiring). Bronfman Associates is reportedly spending $100,000 to advertise the app over the next month on Facebook, Google, Kveller, MyJewishLearning, Tablet, The Jewish Week and Beliefnet. I guess Jewlicious was too cool a site for them? What are we? Haroset? Their loss.

Narration is by Doug Shapiro and Rachel F. Hirsch. Hirsch is a singer and actor in New York City with the warmth of Anne Hathaway, the classic grace of Jackie Kennedy, and the sweet mature voice of Kelli O’Hara. She likes turtles. Shapiro is a Baritone (Bass Low C to E above Middle C), career coach, and teaches drama at Pace University. He played a “very Jewish passerby” on HBO’s Sex and the City.

1 Comment

  1. ck

    3/26/2014 at 2:58 pm

    On the one hand “Edgar used many Haggadahs over the decades and mixed and matched, and he would add commentaries and stories, so he decided to write his own, in a way that was open and inclusive to all Jews and all parts of Judaism, for believers and non-believers…”

    And then on the other hand “Do iPads and iPhones belong at a seder? Aronson said, “It is a non issue.” She added, people check their phones, texts, and e-mails at seders and dinners anyway. This app will give them a reason to use their devices. It’s an option.”

    Uhm. If you bring an iPhone or iPad to my Seder table 1) you won’t be able to follow the parts we do in Arabic and 2) We will all be horrified at the blatant violation of the laws of Yom Tov. I can see this Seder being a possibly interesting study guide (I haven’t seen it) ahead of Passover but no one who is a traditional Jew will use this at the Seder table. The thought of that is ludicrous. No one at our Seder table is checking IMs. All the Smart Phones and Tablets are put away. Even if by some halachic miracle Rabbis allow iPads on Yom Tov, the kids will be too distracted and will use it to play Candy Crush instead.

    Maybe that’s why they didn’t advertise on Jewlicious. What do I know…

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