Posts Tagged ‘G-dcast’

Shofar? There’s An App For That

August 31, 2013

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

A screenshot from 'Wake Up World' (photo credit: Courtesy of G-dcast)

A screenshot from ‘Wake Up World’ (photo credit: Courtesy of G-dcast)

You just put your lips together and blow. That’s how you whistle, as Lauren Bacall once told Humphrey Bogart. It’s also how you make a shofar blast come out of your smart phone or tablet.

 Making the shofar sound by blowing in to the microphone of a handheld electronic device is so easy a small child could do it. And that is precisely what G-dcast had in mind when it created it’s new “Wake Up World” app for the preschool set.

“As far as we know, this is the first Jewish app that uses this input technology,” says Sarah Lefton, executive director of the San Francisco-based Jewish educational media non-profit.

 Having started off in 2008 producing Torah commentary cartoon videos, Lefton and her team are now experimenting with interactive mobile apps for young children. Before releasing this new Rosh Hashanah one (for Apple and Android), G-dcast put out a Passover game app, and also an app that takes kids through the steps of making challah for Shabbat — including the blessings recited before washing hands and eating bread.

With “Wake Up World,” G-dcast pairs its newfound strength in app development with its original storytelling chops. Only this time, the narrative is not a retelling or adaptation of an existing tale, but rather a completely original children’s story.

Click here to read more.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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Casting Our Sins In To The e-Wilderness

August 29, 2013

This article was first published in Haaretz.

2_EnterYourConfession

SAN FRANCISCO – If you keep an eye out, you’ll notice a goat wandering around the Internet.

This being the Jewish season of repentance, it isn’t just any goat. It’s an electronic scapegoat onto which computer and smart phone users are unloading their sins in a virtual reenactment of the ancient Yom Kippur ritual described in Chapter 16 of Leviticus.

“I’m too often grateful to get to work and away from my spouse and kid,” confesses one person. “I sexted my ex,” admits someone else. Another individual divulges that they “once ate bacon before the rabbi came over.” One parent apparently only “go[es] cycling with my kids just to get a tan.”

While we may be reluctant to own up to our misdoings, it seems that eScapegoat, a new web app from G-dcast, a fast-growing San Francisco-based Jewish educational media production company, is helping some of us overcome our sheepishness. G-dcast makes self-reflection easy. If you can tweet, then you can atone.

All you need to do is go to escgoat.com and read short texts on the biblical scapegoat story and how it relates to today’s observance of Yom Kippur. Then you enter your maximum 120 character-long confession and post it anonymously. You just type and click your way through the initial stage of atonement. “It’s just like the bible, only nerdier,” the on-screen text tells us.

There is, however, one major difference between then and now. In biblical times, the sins cast onto the scapegoat only went as far as the animal made it in the desert before dying. With this cyberspace-dwelling cartoon goat, our sins could live on forever, having been broadcast out to the world through eScapegoat’s (lightly moderated)@SinfulGoat Twitter feed.

Click here to read more.

@ 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Teaching Torah In A Web 2.0 World

March 15, 2011

This piece was first published as “From Broadcast to ‘G-dcast'” on The Arty Semite blog of The Forward.

Sarah Lefton, G-dcast co-creator

Where would you go to learn Torah, not only from famous rabbis like Lawrence Kushner, but also feminist rapper Hesta Prynn and legal pundit Dahlia Lithwick? It wouldn’t be to any synagogue, JCC or school. In fact, you wouldn’t even have to leave your home. G-dcast, created by Jewish educational entrepreneur Sarah Lefton and writer Matthue Roth, brings commentary on the weekly Torah portion by Jewish artists, writers and public personalities directly to your computer via animated short films streamed on the Internet.

G-dcast, supported by funders including ROI, Natan, Righteous Persons Foundation, UpStart and the Joshua Venture Fellowship, has recently released a DVD of all 55 of its Torah portion videos (“the offline version of the online hit”), accompanied by a book of creative lessons written by educator Emily Shapiro Katz. In addition, an iPad and iPod G-dcast app is in development.

Matthue Roth, G-dcast co-creator

In just a few short years, Lefton, a graduate of NYU’s Masters in Interactive Telecommunications Program, went from pondering the use of Internet technology, to exposing non-traditional Jews to Jewish learning, to having made 65 short films. Indeed, it was Lefton’s original idea to produce weekly Torah portion commentaries aimed at a young audience — the same people to whom she had been marketing t-shirts through her (now defunct) jewishfashionconspiracy.com business. Her plan to reach this demographic by distributing animated shorts via YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook (in addition to the G-dcast.com website itself) was successful beyond her expectations.

Click here to read more and view G-dcast’s latest video, this one about Purim.

© 2011 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.