If you see someone staring intensely into their iPhone during the evening commute next week, maybe they won’t be reading the latest news on CNN.com or watching a video podcast.
Maybe they’ll be lighting the Chanukah candles.
A new program called iMenorah allows users to download a virtual menorah, light its virtual candles and watch them virtually burn down.
And if the iPhone user you’re observing seems to be mouthing “lehad’lik ner shel Chanukah,” don’t be surprised — the program allows him or her to listen to the blessing over the candles through their earphones.
The iMenorah application was created by two San Francisco residents, Mike Jutan, who is Jewish, and Matthew Parrott, who is not. The 20-somethings both work as software developers for Lucasfilm in San Francisco.
“We wanted to make something culturally relevant,” said Parrott. “The magic of Apple in general is that it can engage culture in meaningful ways.”
The menorah in the program is bronze, shiny and quite realistic-looking — even at 3 1/2 inches by 2 inches — which the designers said sets their menorah application apart from other similar programs available from the iTunes store.
The candles are lit by dragging the shamash across the touch screen with your finger. The blue and white candles flicker and burn down within eight minutes, so you can watch them in one sitting.
“We wanted to provide a ritual experience, rather than just a piece of software,” Parrott said. “We wanted it to feel like you’re really lighting a menorah.”
The iMenorah can be downloaded for $1.99 from the iTunes store. A video detailing how to use the application can be viewed at http://imenorah. mikejutan.com.
A minimum of 10 percent of the proceeds (in multiples of $18) from iMenorah will be donated to the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, the designers say.
“The JCC does so much for the community, and I’ve been really impressed with how they reach out, how they bring Jews and non-Jews together to share in the love of learning and the spreading of knowledge,” said Jutan, who grew up in a small Jewish community in London, Ontario. “That’s what Judaism is all about.”