The Karaite Jews of America has brought a two-thousand-year-old debate to the center of the digital world. Over the past few weeks, the KJA has published – for free – its KJA Omer App (for both iPhone and Android), helping Jews count the omer in accordance with the biblical timing and the Karaite tradition. Today, I explain why the KJA’s app is far more important than the omer.
First, a disclaimer: I oversaw the development of the app; so read my post with that in mind.
Now some background, the 50 days leading up to Shavuot is traditionally called the “Omer”. But as I’ve discussed here, here, and here, Karaites and Rabbanites disagree as to when to actually start counting the omer. So the KJA’s omer app is designed to help Karaites (and Jews who lean Karaite) count the omer according to the biblical timing. If anyone wants some seriously in-depth background on the timing of Shavuot, check out Nehemia Gordon’s article here or Tomer Mangoubi’s section on Shavuot here.
It turns out there are dozens of apps (if not more) helping Rabbanites count the omer and many of them charge money; but there was not a single app to help Karaites count the omer. The KJA’s move is a game-changer – not because Karaites are right about Shavuot (we are) or because the app is glitch free (it isn’t), but because it is a strong signal by the Karaite Jews of America that it is going to invest in the experience of being a Karaite Jew.
This experience is important because man does not live on being right alone. Plus, everyone who has a sincerely held religious belief is “right” in his own eyes; so the best that we all can do is explain our perspective and then provide our correligionists with the means to adhere to this perspective with all of our hearts and all of our souls. This is what the KJA has done.
I hope you enjoy the app and I hope that the KJA continues its efforts to make Karaite Judaism accessible to all.
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You can download the Android App here. (Special shout out to my man, Ted Kartzman, for letting me test the app on his phone.)
You can download the Apple version by searching for “Karaite” in your app store.
You can report glitches or make recommendations for future apps here.