Technology is already an integral part of our lives, but still in most synagogues in Israel, the community has been conducted in the same way for decades. The communication and the messages on a printed page on the bulletin board inside the synagogue together with a WhatsApp group where it is difficult to follow the happenings and the information transmitted in it is accessible only to the members of the community. A new application that has just been published completely changes the intra-community conduct in the synagogues.
The developer of the application is Or Cohen (29), a system expert and software engineering student, who moved 3 years ago to live in an expensive settlement in Samaria, explains where the idea was born: "When we were not yet members of the community and I tried to understand when the prayer times or Torah lessons were – I had to ask and find out from one of the neighbors. The schedule was hanging inside the synagogue and when it was closed it was also inaccessible."
After about a year and a half, Cohen finished developing an application whose great uniqueness is that it is the only one that simultaneously serves the collector, the worshipers and people who are not part of the community. Cohen is a member of the Union of Synagogues and Communities in Israel – now the goal of the union is for the app to be in every community and every synagogue in the country.
The application allows you to fully manage all the affairs of the synagogue. Prayer times (which can also be automatically calculated), Torah offerings, donations, Torah lessons and much more. It is also compatible with kosher phones and can also be used on the home computer.
About half a year ago, a pilot began in about 20 synagogues across the country, including in the Pa synagogue"in Ra’anana. Avi Polak, synagogue collector: "There is an amazing tool there that allows the tax collector to manage the increases. You enter the names of all the worshipers with their phones, and after the collector enters the numbers – the pilgrim automatically receives a notification that he will receive it on Shabbat and this also allows the collector to know who received and who did not – for planning for the future."
The app also makes the world of Torah lessons and donations to the synagogue simpler and easier. "You can upload source pages, zoom links or recorded lessons to the application. Everything becomes more available and easy – also the option to donate and pay – all in the app"explains Cohen.
A significant change is the connection of non-community members who are interested in knowing what is happening in the synagogue. "These are not in the WhatsApp group and it is important for them to know when the prayer times or the Torah lesson or when there is a special event. The app also allows them to feel part of it. We also plan to connect the app to a large screen in front of the synagogue which will add another dimension to connecting everyone." Polk explains.
Another significant innovation in the application is the connection with the union of synagogues. The union of synagogues and communities in Israel works a lot to strengthen the status of synagogues in Israel by establishing them and strengthening their activities. The Union, in collaboration with Hikal Shlomo, publishes every year the calendar of laws and customs for the synagogues, and recently they also published the new Sefer Gebai, which contains blessings for those who come to the Torah, including blessings that strengthen the communal parties and the social bonds between worshippers, and many other actions for the benefit of the synagogues.
In the new application, the collector is connected directly to the Union, therefore various instructions and guidelines are transmitted directly to all users of the application through the Union. These are, among other things, medical emergency directives such as Corona directives for synagogues, directives in times of emergency, directives in security incidents and others received from the various government ministries, from the government authorities: army, police,"R, current instructions from the Chief Rabbinate and more.