Friday, August 27, 2010

Mourner's Kaddish? Visiting a Grave? There's an App For That

Jewish Mourning Ritual
Just last week, I was excited to learn about Bosan, an iPhone app designed for Japanese families that facilitated a virtual grave honoring from anywhere in the world.  I wondered what would be next app for mourners.  Well, here are two more!

Kaddish, the Jewish Mourner's prayer, is recited publicly  every day for 11 months after a parent's death as a reaffirmation of faith.  This requirement can be difficult for many to fulfill properly though, as the prayer is in Aramaic.  Now there is help in the form of an iPhone app to tutor mourners in the pronunciation of this important prayer.  

Jewish Morning Ceremony

Here is a description of the app from its creator, Davka Corporation:

iKaddish teaches the recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish, which is one of the primary ritual observances of Jewish mourning practice.
 It is the ideal tutor for learning the difficult words and intonation of the Kaddish prayer, which is written in Aramaic. The text is displayed with vowelized Hebrew and transliteration. As the audio is played, both the Hebrew and transliteration are highlighted, one word at a time. Users can pause after each screen, tap the screen and listen again, or go forward to the next section. The program includes audio of the Kaddish in both Sephardic and Ashkenazic pronunciation. iKaddish includes the Mourner’s Kaddish and the Rabbis’ Kaddish.
 iKaddish also contains an explanatory section about the Kaddish that includes the English translation, as well as additional information about its recitation.
Jewish Mourning Grief Ritual

What else is out there for tech savvy mourners?
The 'Mourning Post' app...

death ritual memorial

This application allows you to visit and create memorials in conjunction with the web-site, The Mourning   The memorials you create and visit may also be added to with photos, obituaries.  There is a guestbook that friends can sign and leave a note, and a timeline feature that allows for the posting of important events and chronological milestones from the life of the deceased.

Perhaps most impressive, this app also makes use of GPS, allowing the user to find and visit the funerals, resting places, and other significant locations of friends and family members in the real world.
The drawback on this app, and the Mourning Post site, is a frequent request to pay more for services.  Visitors are asked for payments to upgrade or perpetuate the listing.  This unfortunately gives the impression that the family is asking for money from the visitors- not the message they probably  want to convey.  I think the whole experience would be more meaningful if the revenue end was taken care of completely at the front end of the account creation process.

death ritual technology

death mourning grief ritual

Here is a description and list of features from The Mourning Post:

The GPS feature will allow you to pinpoint all the significant locations and give directions if need be.As you travel the world the markers will appear, at that point you simply touch the marker to visit the memorial.
So if you're guilty of not visiting the gravesite as often as you should, fret not, now you may build a lasting memory and create a beautiful memorial that you can visit anywhere you find yourself thinking of the special one in your life.
So if they have lived in multiple locations or have traveled the globe and accomplished many things, or if you just want to carry the memory wherever
you go, you can now bring it all together into one very unique application.

- Search for memorials where you are or around the globe
- Create and view your own personal memorials
- Memorials feature (see website for details on different types of memorials):
- Information and description of your loved one
- Obituary
- Photos
- Map of locations that mattered to them (even include funeral/viewing locations to help your family/friends get directions)
- Timeline of significant events and accomplishments that occurred throughout their life
- Guestbook
- Share the memorial with your family and friends
- Send flowers

For More information about this app, visit The Mourning Post 
For more on The Mourner's Kaddish app, visit Davka Corporation
To read about the Japanese app, Bosan, visit 

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Funeral service faces a crisis of relevance, and I am passionate about keeping the best traditions of service alive while adapting to the changing needs of families. Feel free to contact me with questions, or to share your thoughts on funeral service, ritual, and memorialization.