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A Dynamic Jewish Calendar Mobile App
Remember the Palm Pilot That personal digital assistant (PDA) that was all the fashion back within the 1990s now seems as archaic as one touch light switch a sundial or abacus in comparison with today’s impressive smartphones. The utility apps that we have come to rely upon in the 21st century weren’t even dreamed about back then. For rabbis, other Jewish professionals and observant Jews, there was one mobile app that we came to rely on back within the Palm Pilot era and that was Luach by Penticon (luach is the Hebrew word for calendar).
Penticon’s Luach quickly became the killer app for anyone within the Jewish professional world. In fact, I recall the dean of my rabbinical school on the time, Rabbi William Lebeau, telling the senior class that they could not be ordained from the Jewish Theological Seminary unless they had a PDA with Luach installed.
Now fifteen years later Google has created an importable Hebrew calendar and developers like RustyBrick, AvivoNet and Tebeka Software Solutions have rolled out their own versions of Jewish calendars for Apple’s iOS and Android. However, Penticon’s Luach is back and it is far and away the very best virtual Jewish calendar for mobile devices on the market.
Penticon Technologies’ Howie Hirsch, who lives in Israel, has finally completed work on a Luach version for iOS and he was happy to answer some questions I had on the new app.
When did you come up with the concept of creating a Luach app for the Palm back within the late 1990s
HIRSCH: I always had an interest in the Jewish calendar. When i started to discover ways to develop applications for the Palm, I decided to do something that may very well be useful. I created a small application where I could enter a date, and it might give me the Jewish Date, and vice versa. As I learned more about developing for the Palm and learned more in regards to the inner workings of the Jewish calendar, I realized that this can be an application that can be useful for me, and for many other people.
Why do Jewish people need a mobile utility app like Luach
HIRSCH: It is so convenient to have the data that Luach provides available to you at any time. It is particularly handy to have it together together with your calendar, to be able to be certain that to avoid conflicts with Jewish holidays when you’re scheduling meetings or other events. It is also very helpful to know the Shabbat and holiday candle lighting time when scheduling events in your calendar. Having Luach in your electronic organizer is precisely where you need it.
In addition to observant Jews, who else uses Luach
HIRSCH: Many Jews who usually are not Orthodox still observe Shabbat and Jewish holidays in their very own ways. These people wish to know when the Jewish holidays occur. It is still universal to celebrate yahrzeits (anniversary of a death), based on the Jewish date. Using Luach allows this to be done very easily. It is also very useful to figure out the date for a bar mitzvah and determine the Torah portion that’s read for that Shabbat.
What are some highlights in the brand new iOS one touch light switch version of Luach
HIRSCH: That is something that could be very individual. Different people find different features as highlights. For me, essentially the most convenient thing is having the ability to see what time candle lighting is for the upcoming Shabbat. That’s right there on the house screen of Luach as soon as I open it. I also like the truth that I can view events from the regular iPhone calendar from within Luach, and i can create new events within the iPhone calendar from within Luach. This eliminates the need to change back and forth between Luach and the Calendar when planning an event or meeting that needs to take into consideration the Jewish holidays or Shabbat time. Luach has the flexibility to be configured for the specific customs of each user. It’s also very easy to search out out [Shabbat or holiday] candle lighting times for any city, anywhere on the planet. That is great for business trips, and vacations. Keeping track of yahrzeits can also be very important. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous, many useful features, and which is most useful will vary greatly among users.
We won’t think concerning the Jewish calendar each day, but it surely has an impact on our Jewish lives. Determining holidays, yahrzeits and minyan prayer times once took quite the hassle, but today we have now quick and accurate access to that information on our desktop computers and on the cell phones we keep with us at all times. Having a completely functional Jewish calendar on our mobile devices helps Jewish people stay in touch with the calendar of our heritage now more than ever before.
Luach by Penticon, version 1.0 could be downloaded in the Apple App Store at or visit the Penticon website for more information. (Hirsch says an Android version is a possibility.)
Rabbi Jason Miller is an entrepreneur, educator and technology expert who’s president of Access Computer Technology in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter at @RabbiJason.
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