Celebrations | New app helps find the right blessing for every occasion

Many Jews are familiar with the brachah (blessing) recited before eating bread, but how many know that we have a more specific blessing to recite before biting into our favorite cookie? How many know that there is a blessing for seeing a rainbow or a beautiful flowering tree in the spring?

In an effort to join the old and the new, the Rabbinical Assembly (the international association of Conservative and Masorti rabbis), has created a free app called “Sanctifull” for the iPhone, iPad and iPod. The app is by no means the full answer to the larger issues of Jewish engagement, but it is a step in the right direction.

The app includes, for instance, a new prayer for parents whose child is beginning school for the first time, and for when that child goes off to college or moves into his first apartment. There is also a prayer to give one strength when it is necessary to move a mother or father into a nursing home, and a prayer to recite after a fight with a spouse or close friend.

Conservative Judaism is rooted in the interplay of tradition and modernity. This is the challenge we still seek to meet in today’s tech-heavy world as we work to find ways to help us discover our traditions, and do it in a way that is comfortable for each of us.

While our ancient tradition does not directly address every experience, today’s rabbis — as our teachers have throughout the millennia — draw upon our tradition and modernity, creating prayers and blessings that we can use in our lives today.

Jewish tradition has sources to help us find gratitude or strength for almost every aspect of life, every challenge we encounter and every step we take.

In creating this app, we sought out prayer-appropriate moments for which traditional texts do not exist — or where we found the need for prayers in addition to the existing ones — and have put together a resource that includes translations, transliterations, explanations (kavanot), and recordings of major blessings. This new platform also includes meditations that draw on traditional texts and speak to critical moments when individuals seek a connection to Judaism, but have no traditional brachah to recite.

When life experiences leave us speechless, these blessings will help provide the words and meditations to help us heal, reconcile and grow. The app’s traditional blessings bring contemporary aspects to them, while the new contemporary blessings are rich in Jewish tradition.

Prayer cannot be outsourced to others. We believe that each individual has his or her own personal relationship with God and that each individual has a particular way of spiritual communication. We have taken on the task of making Judaism’s wisdom accessible for Jews in the rhythm of their everyday experiences. These new prayers have been created to accompany a variety of life’s moments that call out for a sacred connection, so that we can awaken all Jews’ awareness to the richness of Jewish tradition.

By making these traditional and new brachot available on the free Sanctifull app, we are working to bring Judaism to Jews — wherever they may be.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld is the executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly.