By Allyson Freedman
Searching for a minyan? Look no further than your smartphone.
On July 8, Web development company RustyBrick released its newest mobile application for Android and iPhone users: Minyan Now. The New York-based company, best known for creating a popular phone siddur, uses modern technology to enhance traditional Jewish practices. The company’s latest product is designed to help Jewish men form and find minyans anywhere.
The idea for Minyan Now was inspired by RustyBrick CEO Barry Schwartz and founder and CFO Ronnie Schwartz after they personally struggled to find the quorums necessary for public prayer after their mother’s death. According to Jewish law, recitation of the traditional mourner’s prayer known as Kaddish requires a minyan.
“Barry and I are twins, and our mother passed away a year-and-a-half ago,” said Ronnie Schwartz. “It was difficult to find minyans in different areas, especially on the go. As a result, we wanted to help people find minyans easily. It is not always easy to get 10 Jewish males in the same place at once. Now, Jewish boys over the age of 13 can find a minyan anywhere, anytime in seconds.”
The brothers dedicated the app to their deceased mother.
So how does it work?
Minyan Now utilizes the smartphone’s built-in GPS system to find users’ locations. Users can create or join a minyan, gather 10 people and get their prayer on.
“Users can create a minyan at the push of a button. All they need to do is set up a time and place and fill in how many people they are bringing,” said Ronnie Schwartz. “After the minyan is created, the mobile application alerts other Minyan Now and RustyBrick Siddur users close by. Once 10 men respond yes, everyone receives a second notification that the minyan is ready to go.”
After just a week and a half, Baltimore resident and RemSource CEO Azi Rosenblum is already impressed with the new application. A huge fan of RustyBrick’s siddur application, Rosenblum praises Minyan Now’s success at creating minyans for people on the go.
“I think RustyBrick’s cutting edge creation will pull more Jews together,” said Rosenblum. “Imagine finding a minyan in the middle of an amusement park, train station or ballgame. Everyone is constantly on the road, including me. They are helping Jews get done what we’ve been doing for thousands of years in an easy, accessible way.”
The Schwartz twins emphasize that their apps use 21st-century tools to aid conventional Jewish practices.
“Our goal is not to infringe on the traditions of Judaism,” said Ronnie Schwartz. “We’re Orthodox and don’t want to change the rules. We want to help others through technology and make all of our lives easier.”
Allie Freedman is a local freelance writer.