Many will emphasize helping victims of recent quake; apps available to tell religious story
By RELIGION NEWS SERVICES
In a bid to encourage Jews to weave the tragedy in Haiti into their recollections of the exodus from slavery in ancient Egypt, a nonprofit organization motivated by Judaism's imperative to pursue justice has created a new reading for Passover, which begins with the Seder on Monday night.
At the festive meal when families read the Haggadah that tells the Passover story, the American Jewish World Service wants them to consider the need for food, shelter and medical care in the Caribbean nation leveled by the Jan. 12 earthquake.
The reading for the offers new verses for "Dayenu," the traditional song of gratitude that emphasizes how each instance of divine assistance during the exodus "would have been enough."
In the agency's version, however, the refrain is that humanitarian aid "will not be enough" until "stability, peace and independence have been attained."
Passover is a weeklong joyous occasion, but it's also a time to recognize that oppression and suffering still exist around the world, said Aaron Dorfman, a vice president of the New York-based AJWS.
"Disaster relief in Haiti is one of many examples of how we can help bring about the liberation that Passover celebrates for all people," he said.
Meanwhile, Jewish technophiles have created a slew of online and iPhone applications that put a modern spin on the Seder's traditional meal, storytelling and singing.
To help Jews stock their pantries with kosher for Passover foods, which cannot contain yeast, a new iPhone app called My Grocery Master searches supermarket inventories by ZIP code. The program debuted to mixed reviews over its $4.99 annual fee and selection limitations, but improvements have been made in response to user feedback.
The iMah Nishtanah app helps users ask the ceremonial four questions ("Why is this night different from all other nights" in Hebrew, with a record mode that lets them rehearse the readings and songs before going public at the dinner table.
A group of rabbis is using Twitter to tell the Passover story ("tweettheexodus") in 140-character-max messages from God--of--Israel, Slavedrivers, and PharoahofEgypt. After seeing the Nile's water turn to blood, the skies rain down frogs, lice and flies, their cattle drop dead and boils break out, citizens of Egypt responded to the plague of unhealable boils with a liberal-leaning punch line on current events: "Our skin is boiling; turn up the AC! Oh no, that's not helping... If only Pharoah provided universal health care."