April 17, 2024
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Spreading Torah to the Masses: BetaMedrash Released on Android

The Shema prayer says to carry God in your heart, and now, thanks to new technology, you can literally carry the entire Tanach, not in your heart, but in your pocket. Teaneck resident Noah Santacruz, along with Josh Herzberg, are Electrical Engineering seniors at Cooper Union and have worked together to create BetaMedrash, a cutting-edge new app. BetaMedrash gives the user access to thousands of Biblical texts in Hebrew, many with English translation.

“There are a number of things that make our app unique to other apps,” Herzberg told the Jewish Link. “We specially designed the search algorithm so that it doesn’t take up a lot of extra space but is still super fast. Other apps take up more space and you end up waiting 30 seconds to a minute for every search.”

Herzberg explained how the app was originally created by him and Santacruz for a databases class. The two friends saw the potential and made the decision to move the app from the classroom to the public. “We decided to continue on to make it a production-level product,” said Herzberg.

They certainly succeeded in their goal. BetaMedrash is complete with a plethora of features and tools—such as a user-friendly design, bookmarks and on-page searching—all of which can be accessed without Internet connection. This is not just a basic mobile version of Tanach; it goes further than that. Once you select a text, you are provided with links to connected sources. This means you can click on a verse and see all the commentaries on that verse and any Gemara or other source that quotes that verse. Not all of the text is translated but a huge portion is—all of Mishnayos is translated and about 5-10 percent of Gemara. BetaMedrash can be utilized by students in school or by people learning on their own time who can use this resource to enhance their studies.

Herzberg noted that developing the app took longer than he expected, more than a semester, with both partners contributing at least 20 hours a week of hard work.

The app, available exclusively on Android, is completely free. “We made it free so more people can gain from it. I’d rather more people use it than make more money,” expressed Herzberg. Their goal is not financially set; they simply want to spread Torah to the masses.

While the app is not yet available on iPhones, Herzberg and Santacruz are working on getting the funding to make it happen in the future.

To check out BetaMedrash’s jewcer campaign, go to http://jewcer.com/project/betamidrash#project-details.

By Bracha Leah Palatnik

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