The Jewish Internet By Mark Mietkiewicz, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer
Israel is turning 65 and with Yom Ha’atzmaut around the corner, it’s the perfect time to celebrate with some made-in-Israel apps that share the best the country has to offer. Here’s a selection, most of which you can download for free.
Netanyahu speaking Mandarin? That’s what I heard when I first fired up this app, which attempts to present Israeli stories that may have been missed by the world media: the opera Carmen performed at Masada set in the Wild West; a Norwegian delegation travelling to Israel looking for advice about revitalizing the Lapp language; and Netanyahu’s greetings for the Chinese New Year. Note: After downloading, change settings for this app from French to English (http://bit.ly/israpp1).
Haaretz, Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom
The first two provide plenty of news and opinion in English about Israel and the Jewish world. The newly released Haaretz app requires a one-time registration. Both apps are free (http://bit.ly/israpp2 and http://bit.ly/israpp3). Even if you don’t speak Hebrew, it’s worth checking out Israel Hayom, which provides a gorgeous newspaper-like interface on your iPad that includes great graphics, screaming headlines and all the ads (http://bit.ly/israpp4).
Jerusalem’s Israel Museum has recently gone through a renewal and this app is worth downloading even if you don’t have a chance to visit in the near future. The highlight is the Exhibits section, which includes photos and audio commentaries about some of the museum’s most prized pieces including the Rothschild Miscellany (15th century, Northern Italy), Robert Indiana’s Ahava (Love) and René Magritte’s The Castle of the Pyrenees and the Model of Jerusalem, formerly at the Holyland Hotel (http://bit.ly/israpp5).
If you are planning a trip to Israel and want to do things a bit differently, consider spending time at a bed and breakfast. The Hebrew app includes photos, reviews and contact information for dozens of gorgeous tzimmers in the Upper and Western Galilee, and in the Golan Heights (http://bit.ly/israpp6).
This is another app that has a modest goal and delivers on it very well. Get status information about all flights en route to or departing Ben-Gurion Airport. The app seamlessly collects data from all relevant airlines — along with weather information at the destination — and presents it in a logical format (http://bit.ly/israpp12).
Israel Nature Trails ($2.99)
Here’s a great little guide to download on an iPhone with information about 12 picturesque trails throughout the country. It includes background about each trail and a photo gallery. I particularly like the GPS-enabled maps that will guide you along each path (http://bit.ly/israpp7).
If you’d like a break from baseball, basketball or hockey (and you can read Hebrew) check this app for the latest news about the sport that keeps Israelis glued to their televisions. Last year the Kiryat Shmona soccer team made headlines when it became the first to win a championship outside the three major cities (Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa) in almost 30 years. And this year (http://bit.ly/israpp8)?
Finally, some of the best apps coming out of Israel aren’t about Israel but just demonstrate why Israeli know-how and ingenuity are popular around the world. An article from israel21c.org includes an overview of 10 top Israeli apps including Waze, a traffic app which analyzes traffic in real-time and suggests alternative routes to keep you out of a jam (http://bit.ly/israpp9).
But my real admiration goes to the folks who participated in a “Hackathon” where more than 70 Israeli entrepreneurs came together to brainstorm for two days and by the time Hackathon ended, had several ideas up and running, including 2See Israel, an aggregator of photos of Israel found on Flickr and Picasaweb (http://bit.ly/israpp10), and Peace Connector which uses Facebook “to connect people in countries of conflict simply based on shared hobbies (http://bit.ly/israpp11).”
Mark Mietkiewicz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.