Purim is almost here and if you just can’t wait, you can carry a Megillah wherever you go – or at least a noisemaker or two – if you’ve got an iPhone (or iPod touch or iPad). Everything mentioned in today’s column either costs 99¢ or is free.
A lot of app creators seem to want to try their hand at building a better gragger (aka ra’ashan or Purim noisemaker). There’s the free (but oh so boring) Ratchet! [http://bit.ly/purimapp1] and Purim (99¢) which is slightly better. At least you can choose between two styles of graggers. [http://bit.ly/purimapp2] And for another variation of the theme, there’s also iGragger (99¢). [http://bit.ly/purimapp10]
But why settle for a gragger that someone else has designed when you can add a personal touch? Grogger Factory (99¢) lets you custom build your virtual gragger by choosing its style (Tin Lizzy, Israeli, Vilde Chaya), veneer (Wood, Marble, Goo, Snakeskin), sound (Whistle, Siren, Boo, Oy Gavolt!) and background (Synagogue, Hamantashen, Under thre Sea, Outer Space.) A handy gragger history and usage guide is included. [http://bit.ly/purimapp3]
When I came across Grogger (free), I thought “Here’s something different – a game that promotes the moderate use of alcohol on Purim. The goal is to make your way safely across town but as you drink more, navigation becomes harder. It was only after poking around the game that I realized that it was created by the City of Melbourne “because we don’t want you to get smashed.” Presumably, “Grogger” is Aussie slang for inebriation. Anyway, the message still applies. [http://bit.ly/purimapp4]
Reminiscent of the venerable Concentration memory game, Purim Matching Game Memory Pairs (99¢) has you tap on the screen and presents a glimpse of holiday symbols (hamantash, megillah, gragger, etc.) Your goal is remember where each symbol is and match it up to its twin as quickly as possible. [http://bit.ly/purimapp5]
Cooking with the Bible: Esther Saves her People (99¢) “lets you recreate a traditional meal from the joyous holiday celebrating Queen Esther’s triumph over evil Haman.” Nice in theory, but do we really think that the Jews of Persia were dining on Chocolate Chip Challah, Sweet and Sour Bass and Vegetable Cholent? And if they were, I can’t believe they were feasting on Creamy Artichoke Soup and Herb-basted Turkey Breast – at the same meal! [http://bit.ly/purimapp6] (I prefer the Jewish-food Purim Archives website which has recipes for Persian Lamb and Apricot Pilaf, Persian Meat Patties (Shami), Persian Poached Pears and Persian Poppy Seed Puffs. [http://bit.ly/purimrecip])
Since new apps appear all the time, here is one site you should definitely bookmark. [http://bit.ly/purimapp9] JewishiPhoneCommunity.org is a wonderful clearinghouse of the latest Jewish apps, and despite its name, you’ll find information about apps for Android and Blackberry-based phones too. Highly recommended!
Megilat Esther HD (99¢) is an attractive app which provides the entire text of Megillat Esther along with sound effects, and lovely illustrations from Israel’s Malchut Waxberger Gallery. I particularly like how Haman’s name goes up in flames when tapped. Oddly, some instructions are bilingual English/Hebrew while others are in Hebrew only. [http://bit.ly/purimapp7]
And just like the best Purim goodies that you find on your doorstep, Megillas Esther – The Story of Purim is not only delightful, it’s also free. As you scroll down the um, scroll, you are presented with the full Hebrew text of the Megillah. But what makes this really fun are the buttons that deliver sounds including air horn, machine gun, crowd booing, firecrackers and of course, the sound of a classic gragger. Just shake for a random noise. [http://bit.ly/purimapp8]
Chag Purim samayach.
Mark Mietkiewicz is a Toronto-based website producer who writes, lectures and teaches about the Jewish Internet. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.