Monday, June 27, 2022 -
Print Edition

Denverite devises app for learning Shabbat prayers

Forty years ago, Adam Moskowitz became a Bar Mitzvah at B’rith Shalom in Houston. Like a typical Bar Mitzvah, he led parts of the Shabbat morning service and read from the Torah.

Adam Moskowitz, left, and the menu of the ‘Read Along Siddur’.

Also like many a typical Bar Mitzvah boy, he didn’t retain those skills.

“I can’t say that I was the person who paid the most attention in Hebrew school, he quips.

Fast forward to his adult life in Denver, where his interests in Jewish learning and observance have been rekindled to the point that he wants to be able to pray the Shabbat morning service in Hebrew.

“While certainly there are people who are kind enough to sit with me and try to teach me, that is really time-intensive for them,” Moskowitz says.

Moskowitz acknowledged that there are line-by-line transliterated prayerbooks that can help people learn the words of the prayers, but these aids do not teach pronunciation.

So, the 53-year-old insurance agency owner decided to take matters into his own hand. He came up with the idea of an app that could teach him and others the Shabbat morning prayers, including the pronunciation.

Moskowitz is not a software designer so he commissioned Denverite Jonah Lawrence, who created the “Read Along Siddur” app, with assistance from his brother Raphael Lawrence.

The app enables the user to hear the words of the Shacharit and Musaf prayers of the Shabbat morning service.

Moskowitz describes it:

“You touch on a word, and that word is highlighted and turns yellow. A voice says the word and it automatically goes to the next word and the next word and the next word. But if you want to go back, you just touch whatever word you want to start with.”

“The words are pronounced by Denverites Ari Hoffman and Shimon Stroll. They did an amazing job. They took it very seriously and were very meticulous in their work,” Moskowitz says.

Each word had to be pronounced slowly, with pauses before and after each word. Because it was such a deliberate and painstaking process, the app took nearly two years to complete.

Read Along Siddur is free to download and use. It is currently available for android devices. Moskowitz explains that Apple’s approval process for apps is considerably slower than for android devices, so the app is not yet available for iPhones.

Moskowitz’s desire to pray the Shabbat morning service in Hebrew is another step in his Jewish journey that has seen him become active in many Jewish causes in Denver since he moved here 20 years ago. He is chairman of the board of The Jewish Experience and serves on the JNF Mountain States board.

He attends synagogue at DAT Minyan and Kehilas Bais Yisroel, and he has studied at Mercaz Torah v’Chesed and with Rabbi Mendel Popack at the Jewish Life Center.

Moskowitz first mentioned his idea for this app to his friend and teacher Rabbi Raphael Leban, managing director of The Jewish Experience, about four years ago. Rabbi Leban says Moskowitz quietly and determinedly followed through, and just last month surprised Rabbi Leban with the completed app.

“For an app produced entirely by members of our community at Adam’s direction, it is elegant in its simplicity, and it is genuinely effective,” Leban says.

“We are super proud of Adam and his gift to Jewish education. He exemplifies our vision of altruistic and passionate embrace of Judaism and the Jewish people.”

Larry Hankin may be reached at larry@ijn.com

Copyright © 2021 by the Intermountain Jewish News



IJN Associate Editor | larry@ijn.com


Leave a Reply