By Francesca Norsen Tate
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A team of over 40 scholars and technicians developed the ArtScroll’s Schottenstein Digital Edition of the Talmud for offline use. The application retains the integrity of the original printed form while introducing state-of-the-art learning enhancements to deepen and broaden any Talmud learner’s study.
A competing company based in Israel was also working to launch a Talmud app during July, but voracious Talmud students can appreciate being “locavore” by using ArtScroll’s new product. ArtScroll, based in Sunset Park, is the largest English language publisher today of scholarly and popular Judaica books, with over 1,400 titles in print, including the celebrated "Kosher by Design Cookbook" series. The company was established in 1976 through the publication of a single-volume anthologized commentary on the biblical Book of Esther.
Version 1.0 of the ArtScroll Digital Talmud contains numerous features that are expected both delight the seasoned Talmud learner, and provide valuable support for the novice. It is designed so that users of this app can feel at home with the ArtScroll formatting of the Hebrew page of Talmud with its familiar signature commentary on the facing pages. However, at the press of a finger, the learner can access all the notes, including the Talmud with vowel points and commentary, without having to leaving the original Hebrew page.
Unlike other apps, the ArtScroll digital Talmud does not require an active Internet connection once it is downloaded to the reader. The publishing house was sensitive to today’s concerns regarding digital technology, so they worked carefully to follow the directives of leading rabbinic authorities that web devices have appropriate filters and controls. ArtScroll specifically designed this app for daily use that without dependence on the Internet.
Gedaliah Zlotowitz, ArtScroll’s vice-president for sales and marketing wants users to “understand that this is neither a scan nor a PDF of the Talmud. Each page is highly interactive in a way no print edition could be. We spared no expense in producing a quality product and made it easy to acquire with differing price packages, including a Daf Yomi cycle option for just a few dollars a month. You can even purchase a single blatt or a few blatt if you are going on the road and don’t want to carry a heavy print volume.”
Users of the Talmud App can choose from three different pricing and download options available now through the Apple App Store, with the first seven pages given away free for users to experience the digital learning. ArtScroll reported hundreds of downloads of the app following the first hours of release on Friday, July 27.
The iPad app for the Schottenstein Babylonian Talmud is the first of several projects for development under the Wasserman Digital Initiative, dedicated by Stanley and Ellen Wasserman. ArtScroll co-founder Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz said, “The Talmud is just the beginning. Our long term goal is to help tens of thousands of Torah learners become more proficient in the major classic sources such as Rashi, Ramban, the Midrash Rabbah and much more.”
The ArtScroll digital Talmud app will be an ongoing project, with new features and enhancements to be added automatically and at no cost through regular updates. The app is compatible with version 1, 2, and 3 of the iPad. When completed in the summer of 2013, the ArtScroll Schottenstein Digital Talmud will occupy only three gigabytes of memory. The average single volume is 70 megabytes. Within two months of the initial iPad App release, ArtScroll expects to offer an app for the iPhone, as well.