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Oct 18 2011

Bring New Technology to Your School

By at 11:50 am

It’s hard to ignore the fact that today, technology plays a huge role in almost every aspect of our lives, from how we communicate with friends and family, stay up to date with current events, and get great parenting advice (wink, wink). Technology can also play a huge part in educating our children, though all too often, the technology in schools is out-of-date or sparse.

The Intel AppUp Center is currently holding a contest open to all parents who would like to get better technology into their childrens’ school. The Wired to Learn contest will offer tech packages worth $5,000, $10,000, and $25,000 to three deserving schools. They’re also giving away one netbook each week to celebrate technology and education, so gather up your lucky charms and enter to win today.

To enter your school into the challenge, all you need to do is tell a story about your school and drum up votes. The school with the most votes wins a tech package. Be sure to also check out the AppUp Center for all kinds of education apps that your kids can use on their home or school PC, including Britannica KidsCaillou Alphabet and Core Mind Master.

So if you’re ready to introduce the latest technology to your kids’ education, enter the Wired to Learn contest, and we’ll be sure to cross our fingers for you.

Note: This is a sponsored blog post. Kveller is a not-for-profit resource. Sponsorship revenue helps us provide Kveller resources free of charge.

Oct 6 2011

The Legacy of Steve Jobs for the Jews

By at 1:45 pm

Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple, passed away yesterday. News of his death raced through my Twitter feed (which I was reading on my iPod Touch), but one tweet in particular caught my eye.  Rabbi Efrem Goldberg wrote, “How much Torah has been listened to on iPods, iPhones, and iTouches thanks to Steve Jobs, what a merit.”

I hadn’t previously thought of Steve Jobs’ legacy being directly related to the Jewish community in that way.  It makes a lot of sense, though. What a gift.

The portability of the Torah—the ability to move Jewish learning and worship out of the The Temple in Jerusalem and into synagogues and chavurot all over the world has been crucial to the survival of the Jewish people.  The iPhone takes this mobility to a whole new level.  We now have access to the whole of the internet (including Kveller and My Jewish Learning!), as well as apps for our most holy writings, candle-lighting times, Jewish calendars and music, and Hebrew dictionaries, wherever we go.

As we remember Steve Jobs today, we here at Kveller would love to know, how has your iPhone or iPad impacted your Jewish life or Jewish parenting?  What’s your favorite Jewish app? What apps would you like to see?

Sep 2 2011

Friday Night: The Difference Between Babies & Cell Phones

By at 11:53 am

baby on cell phoneI took my six-week old daughter to synagogue for the first time last Friday night. My husband and I deliberately sat in the back of the congregation. At first, the baby sat contentedly in her car seat as the beautiful melodies of Kabbalat Shabbat filled the room around us. After L’cha Dodi, the rabbi began to speak. As he did, two things happened. The first was that my daughter opened her mouth and began to cry (I don’t usually like sermons either, so she clearly got that from me). The second was that someone’s phone rang loudly in a jaunty ring that would have seemed right at home in a beachside margarita joint, but less so in a religious service.

As I extricated my child from the car seat and prepared for a swift exit into hallway exile, the usher swooped down on the offending phone user and reminded her that cell phones should be turned off in a religious service. The usher then followed me to the door and held it open for me.

“I’m sorry,” I said, gesturing toward my poorly-mannered baby.

“Babies bother me a lot less than cell phones,” she said with a kind smile.

As I left the sanctuary, I thought about her statement, and her mentality made sense to me. After all, babies don’t have a ‘vibrate’ button (if they do, PLEASE email me ASAP and let me know where I can find it).  But more importantly, babies’ cries need to be attended to…and more often than not, contrary to the way we behave, those of a phone do not.

Back in my dating days, I remember one dinner with a guy…let’s call him ‘Jeff,’ since that was his name. It was a first date, and we’d been set up by a friend, in a rare deviation from my JDate recidivism. We went to a Japanese restaurant in the Village, and talked about his recent travels and mine. On the date Richter scale, it was much like the recent New York earthquake – comparatively benign.  Until, out of nowhere, this guy I’d just met whipped it out. Right there, at the table. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 15 2011

iDidn’t Bring My iPhone

By at 4:38 pm

I walked out to the park the other day without my iPhone and I felt free for the first time in months. I’ve only had an iPhone for two years, a cell phone for six years, and I haven’t worn a watch since high school so I first noticed that I’d left the smartphone at home when I went to check the time.

I was a late adopter of cell phones. I was annoyed but resigned to clerks in stores ignoring me to talk to friends or on the phone, but I disliked the fact that even standing next to a friend, I was now second to any random acquaintance who happened to call him up. And that was before smartphones or Facebook meant that the link to work or social contact was continuous rather than occasional.

I finally succumbed to the lure of mobile telephony because my wife was nine months pregnant and I thought we ought to be in touch in case she needed me urgently. It was a pressing need. I updated to the iPhone because I wanted to be able to take photos of my growing family and check my email from home while I was with them without shlepping my laptop and aggravating my aching back. That was also a good move and allowed me to spend more time at home (and my back to recover).

The internet is designed to be generally addictive and personally enticing. It’s a gateway to vast quantities of useful information and my devices, like yours, are set up to find the things I find especially necessary at the touch of a button. Anywhere, anytime. But it’s a creeping tool and I find myself holding my iPhone to take a picture of my girls and then lingering, like Gollum with his precious ring, on my email or latest sports news.

I didn’t stop wearing a watch because I no longer needed to be punctual, but because I didn’t need to be ruled by the time. The iPhone can free me to spend time with my family, but that time needs also to be free of the iPhone.

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