Have you ever marveled at a scene in nature – ocean waves lapping the shore – and wondered how to thank God for the beauty of what you saw? There’s an app for that.
Sanctifull, the Rabbinical Assembly’s new app that can be downloaded for free onto Apple devices, includes special prayers and meditations on events that have become commonplace but didn’t necessarily exist at the time traditional Jewish texts were written. There are prayers for when a child goes to school for the first time, after a personal decision is reached, when a parent enters a nursing home and after a fight with a friend.
Traditional blessings are included as well, but these come with a new meditation. The prayers and meditations are written in Hebrew, English, transliteration and also recited aloud.
“It is designed for everybody, those who are highly engaged to those who just started from alef,” said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, affiliated with the Conservative movement. Schonfeld, along with 27 other rabbis and one cantor, wrote the new prayers and meditations.
Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt of Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac contributed to the app. When writing, “I searched within because I knew it was a prayer that would speak to individuals and it would be something people would use when confronting personal” situations, he said. He thought about “how the prayer spoke to me and how it could speak to others” while still including the voices of Jews “across the ages.”
“Our rabbis have created new prayers to accompany a variety of life’s moments that call out for a sacred connection and awaken their awareness to the richness of Jewish tradition,” Schonfeld said.
“Judaism has so much to say.”
Sanctifull has been in the works for about two years, Schonfeld said. It is
designed both for the younger, more tech savvy crowd, as well as those looking for prayers that speak to important moments in their lives.
The app is divided into categories, including nature, special experiences, day to day, death and grief, emotions, family and parenting, friendships, dating and marriage and milestones. Under nature, a user can click on prayers to recite after hearing thunder or on seeing something beautiful or grotesque.
The section on seeing the ocean goes like this:
“Our lives depend on water; our bodies consist largely of water. We drink water, cook with water, and wash with water every day, not giving it a second thought. And yet sometimes we see water of such magnificence that it jolts us from our routine – especially when we see an ocean, part of the immense body of water that is the mikveh, the ritual bath, in which the world bathes.
‘A river flows from Eden to water the garden; it then divides and becomes four branches’ (Genesis 2:10). When I follow the waves back to their Source, they connect me back to the Garden of Eden and remind me of the miracle of creation. When I picture others around the world, gazing at this same ocean, I remember how much unites us. Thank you, God, for this great ocean on this small planet.”
The Rabbinical Assembly plans to update the app with new prayers from time to time and is considering rolling out a version for other smartphones.