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NELFTY Alumna Creates App for Holocaust Remembrance Day

Editor’s Note: We love sharing the exciting things our alumni are up to, like Susan Stern Ringel, NELFTY ’82, who created a mobile app to help commemorate Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins the evening of April 23 this year. Read on to learn more about her creation, motivation, and how her time in NFTY guided her Jewish practice as an adult. Have your own project or milestone to share with us? Email us at nftyalumni@urj.org.

by Susan Stern Ringel, NELFTY 1978-82

I graduated from NFTY in 1982, but it has never been too far away. I zoomed through four amazing years in NELFTY (now NFTY-NEL), soaring to new heights socially, and discovering at least 70 faces of Judaism. Then I went to college and married a fantastic guy from OVFTY! Years later, our older son took the route of temple youth group (TYG), URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI) and URJ Kutz Camp, and was even a song leader. Our younger son veered to BBYO and a JCC overnight camp, which was plenty ok with us.

Today, whenever I meet up with old friends from NELFTY, every conversation includes “Do you remember?” Do you remember … Havdalah on the beach at camp? … all those cute guys from Toronto? …crying our eyes out at friendship circle?

Another thing worth remembering, on an entirely different note, is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. To do my part in remembering, I have created an app where you light a virtual candle in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, this year on April 23-24.

Are you thinking, we’ve got Holocaust movies, novels, textbooks, foundations, museums, and more, does the world need an app too? Yes, today it is still a critical task to remember the intolerance of the past, and to foster acceptance in the present and future. For me, creating and promoting this app has been a rewarding challenge.

Why might you download this app?

  • In addition to lighting a physical candle, you wish to observe Yom HaShoah in another way.
  • You live in a place where you cannot light candles, such as an apartment, nursing home, or college dorm room.
  • You will be out of town and can’t light the candle at home.
  • You don’t have a candle and you want to light one.
  • You find it meaningful to download apps like this on your phone.

The steps to using the app are easy:

  1. Go to the Apple App Store, and search for “Yom HaShoah candle”
  2. The app, the only one of its kind, will come up.
  3. Download the free app.
  4. Tap through the tutorial, and then choose a time to be reminded to light your candle April 23-24.
  5. When that time arrives, you will be able to light your candle with the tap of a button, and recite a paragraph of text. Your candle will burn for 24 hours, as you join the worldwide commemoration.

The Yom HaShoah Candle App, now in its second year, is supported by my temple, Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, Ohio. Our mobile app developer this year is a 15-year-old high school freshman. He did a terrific job of guiding us through the technology and bringing the concept to fruition.

The inspiration for the app is our brotherhood group, the Men of Fairmount Temple, which has been delivering physical Yom HaShoah candles to members’ homes for decades. Two years ago, while helping to deliver candles, I had the idea for the app.

NFTY-ites, please remember the Holocaust with me. Download this app, and share it with your family and friends under Options > Send Candle to Others. You can re-open the app anytime and see your candle’s flickering flame. After 24 hours, you will receive a notification that the flame has gone out. Note: we hope that next year, with more funding, we will be able to build the app for Android users too.

Susan Stern Ringel teaches Parent-Child Hebrew at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, OH, enjoys volunteering in the Cleveland area, and works as the operations manager for Dynamics Online, an internet marketing agency. In the summer of 1978 she was at NELFTY Camp, held at Camp White Pine in Haliburton, Ont., when Bill Murray filmed the movie “Meatballs.”