An Android app to send prayers to Jerusalem

I have just finished a two-week project building an Android app called @TheKotel – Prayers to Jerusalem.

Now, anyone who knows me even slightly might think this is a bit weird, and believe me, i had a long conversation with myself about it before deciding to take on the work. These are the reasons that i did.

  1. I think it’s a nice idea. Putting thoughts into words and feeling that you’ve offloaded them somewhere is sometimes all people need to feel better.
  2. I saw a video of Alon printing the prayers and cutting them up and taking them to the wall. It made a personal connection for me.
  3. There’s already a successful iPhone app with over 10,000 downloads, so i saw this is definitely something that people want, which is all good publicity for me.
  4. Alon raised money from the people who already use the iPhone app to pay for the development of the Android app.
  5. I saw it as an opportunity to learn a bit more about Android development, try out PhoneGap and Sencha Touch (which i dropped when i found i wasn’t happy with the quality).
  6. I had saved up enough money in the back that i could offer this more-or-less as a gift, not expecting much money for it but instead doing it for reputation and for another Android app in my portfolio.

The concept is very simple. You type your prayer on a piece of paper (or pray out loud with Android’s speech-to-text feature) and press “Amen” and the prayer gets sent to Alon in Israel.

Combined with all the prayers that get sent via twitter and the iPhone app, Alon prints out thousands at a time, cuts them into little slips, rolls them up tight and takes them to the Western-Wall, or The Kotel, the remains of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

The app is free, and the service is totally free, but donations are gratefully accepted. There is also a Connect screen giving options to share the app with friends and feel connected to the Western-Wall and Jerusalem. We also included some background information about the Wall and how the service got started, as well as some personal messages from a few supporters who helped to raise funds.

Best of all, there’s the gallery where you can see where the prayers are going. I really like this image of Alon putting the prayers in the Wall.

I am very pleased with the final result. It’s nice and fast, good native Android experience, and i think people are going to love it! I enjoyed coming back to Android development, say what you want about Java, but i like it!

If you can bear to listen to me talk about this anymore, Alon asked me to record a video in my “enchanting” British accent, heheh! :)

Device graphics were generated with Device frame generator and released under CC BY 3.0 license.

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Rosh Hashanah

Happy Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new year) to all who celebrate it. I was thinking about maybe going to Southampton for the celebrations, but after a weekend away i feel i need a night in.

Also, happy new moon, new month to everybody. I have been particularly fascinated with the moon the last couple of months. It’s one good thing about the days getting shorter; i get more interested in the night sky and love to see what i can observe. I recently obtained a pair of binoculars and i can spend ages looking at the moon through them. I would love to get a telescope! :)

In other news, i hear Tom Felton has an album out. It seems Tom is pretty good on the guitar, but unfortunately does not have a singing voice to match …! Here is a little medley of Tom Felton music.

White Easter

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it! It has snowed the last 3 days in Winchester, and is snowing right now. My friend[0] Jack even managed to catch a photo of some snow settling!

We had a lovely Purim. My partner made Hamentaschen and we read the book of Esther. I love that story! We had Shabbat again yesterday, which was also very nice and we had a friend come to visit for the afternoon.

Contrary to my earlier post, i did actually go out to see part of the Winchester Passion. We arrived just in time to see Jesus coming down the high street. We followed down to the Buttercross where there was some sort of trial i suppose, but we couldn’t see because there were too many people. We skipped to the cathedral and hung around to see Jesus get killed, and then it was too cold so we went home again! I think, as a piece of street theatre, it was very well done. It was really well attended too: well over 1000 people turned up, i should say. Jack also got a little photo of some of the crowd.

Today is a day for catching up on chores, and i am working on a few enhancements to MyChores.

[0] ‘Friend’ as in we are friends on Facebook. We’ve never actually met in reality, but what does that matter these days, heh!

Shavua Tov! – Happy new week!

I had a lovely Shabbat experience with my partner. It was a couples retreat workshop in a hotel, with meals included, activities, opportunities to think about what is important to us as a couple. We met some lovely people there, and had a very good time. The meals were excellent, plus we pigged out on kosher Oreos (yum!) and we had a red wine that i actually like!! It is from Israel, really sweet! We were fortunate to be able to bring some home with us! :)

The whole thing was very spiritual, and symbolic. I enjoyed participating in the traditions, and i especially liked singing in Hebrew. There was a guitar player among us who made the songs very lively and everyone enjoyed singing. It’s great to sing psalms in Hebrew because you find out they actually rhyme!

I can say one thing really well now – almost every prayer begins with it!

Baruch Atah Adonai, Elohaynu Melech Ha’olam
Praised are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe

I think we have made at least one new friend that we will keep in touch with … probably more via Facebook. We are also intending to observe Shabbat as a weekly ritual at home together. This means no Internet from Friday evening to Saturday evening – and on the plus side – no chores either!! I think it will be really good for us both, to take a break and spend some special time together once a week.

* * *

Yesterday, as we still had the car, we went for a nice drive out into Wiltshire, doing some family history research. In a church cemetery we met a friendly couple doing the exact same thing, and they invited us into their holiday motor home for a cup of coffee and cake! :D On the way back we passed Stonehenge, and went through Wherwell, which is a beautiful village that i have loved since childhood.

We had an exciting journey back because we actually ran out of fuel! It’s amazing how far you can drive in Hampshire and not find a filling station!! By some miracle we managed to get home although the gauge was reading zero for at least 10 miles!