I am currently preparing to embark on my fifth Taglit Birthright Israel trip with Israel Free Spirit aka the awesomest trip provider in the world, in the past three years, and I figured that I owe it to my thousands upon thousands upon thousands of readers across the planet; many of whom are Jewish, to share some of the wisdom that I have acquired from this once in a lifetime experience. I thought that since we are now in the year 2015, and phone applications, or "apps" as they are trendily referred to, are very popular, I owe it to you-- my devoted readers to compile a top ten list of "Must Have Apps" if you are going on a Birthright trip. Before I begin, I must make clear that I do believe everyone is better off by not getting a data plan in Israel, but by using the old school rental phones which came straight from the 90s. However if one does not heed my advice, then these are the critical apps to have. I will list them from least important to most important.
10. Google Translate- Even though most Israelis speak some English, in certain parts of the country, for some reason, they do not. It can be maddening; like, how can not everyone speak English. This app though is super helpful, and user friendly, and allows you to speak to it, and will play back a translation. It also easily switches from one language to the next. In short, its awesome. Especially when you are starving, and looking at a menu, and have no idea what it says.
9. Globe Convert- One of the most frustrating things about being in a foreign country is not understanding the currency conversion rates. In Israel it is no different, and it can be exceedingy frustrating when you see that it costs 15 shekels for a lousy falafal. Eventually, once you get over the shock of paying so much for things, it begins to feel like Monopoly money, and then you lose all your money. Therefore, its a good idea to have a currency conversion app. This app also supposedly converts metric units as well; it is annoying that Israelis don't use ounces, and pounds, they use something called kilos, and meters... Very confusing and frustrating. This app helps with the headaches.
8. Daily Water- In Israel it is very hot. Very very very very very very hot. Today it was 105 degrees. You gotta drink a ton of water. This app helps remind you. Being dehydrated and having an IV pump you liquids is not an ideal way to spend your Birthright Israel trip. So drink, and drink and drink some more.
7. The Israel App- I have no idea what this app is, but its called the Israel App, so odds are its a great app to have for birthright.
6. Whats App-This is an extremely popular app in Israel, and it allows you to text, and have group chats with anyone in the world who has the app and is connected to data or wifi. It works even for those unfortunate souls out there who don't have iphones and imessage. This app is especially good for keeping in touch with your 8 Israeli soldiers after the trip, but you can also use it as a texting app to America, as long as the people you are texting also have it.
5. The Siddur App- Israel is an extremely inspiring place. You might feel the need at some point to pray. The Siddur app allows you to open up the traditional Jewish prayer book, and recite your favorite prayers. The good news is that G-d understands all languages and you can always just speak to him from the heart.
4. Glide- This Israeli- made video messaging app is very cool. Instead of sending text messages, you can send videos, recorded in real time. People can watch them as they are recording, or can catch them later. There is a great group messaging feature, and its a very good way to stay intimately connected to your birthright group when you all get back to the States.
3. Selfie.com app- This App is like SnapChat, instagram and twitter all rolled up into one. You can record yourself or surroundings for about 20 seconds, and then people can respond to you. It would be a great way to chronicle your trip so you can relive it 6 months down the line, and a great way to follow up with your new pals from the trip. Make sure to follow me, the SelfeeRabbi.
2. Instagranny- This is a must have app for birthright. It works a lot like Instagram, and it allows you to spice up your pictures with a large assortment of grannies, a couple grandpas, and even a few kittnes for any occasion. For example, I stuck in a granny in a picture with me and my wife on Masada. All your friends will think you made good friends with a ton of different grannies, and it makes you look very, very cool. Thanks to Mel for the awesome referral.
1. Snoopify- This is the winner. It works just like Instagranny, but instead of putting a granny in a picture, you can Snoopify any photo by inserting Snoop Dogg, or Snoop Lion as he was formally known into any picture of your choosing. I owe a big thanks to one of my past participants from two summers ago , Jake for the referral.
That does it for the 10 Apps that you must have on Birthright Israel. Download them now, and have an incredible trip! Make sure to eat and drink a ton of ice coffee, falafal, shwarma, and shnitzel because after your trip you will never again view any of those delicacies the same as you do now.