1. News

Preparing for the Passover seder, there's an app for that

Demonstrating some functions of the Passover Assistant app, Rabbi Alter Korf of the Chabad Jewish Center also uses the time for teaching kids more about the holiday. Rabbi Korf, center, refers to the Passover Assistant App on an iPhone as he helps make a Passover Chocolate Mousse Pie in the Chabad’s kitchen along with Ari Zimmer, from left, 16, Lee Kadury, 16, Hannah Zimmer, 14, and Victoria Bischoff, 17, all of St. Petersburg.
Published Apr. 11, 2014


Chaya Korf was leading one of her monthly Lunch & Learn classes, offering tips for Passover, when she mentioned a new app created as a guide for the eight-day holiday.

"All of a sudden, the Androids and iPhones were whipped out," she said. "The women downloaded it right there."

Passover Assistant, as the free app is titled, joins others that aim to offer at-your-fingers ease to alleviate the anxieties of preparing for and celebrating one of the best-known Jewish holidays. Links around a picture of matzo — the unleavened bread of the holiday — offer guidance for meal planning, recipes, shopping lists, Passover candle lighting times and more.

Passover, which begins at sundown Monday and commemorates the Israelites' escape from slavery in Egypt, involves extensive preparation. There's the thorough cleaning, shopping for required foods that are kosher for Passover and preparation of the traditional seder meal with its symbolic foods and retelling of the Passover story from the Haggadah, or service text.

Though a veteran of the festival and all that it entails, Korf, a busy mother of eight children ranging in age from 1 to 12, appreciates the new digital tool.

"Some of the popular songs from the seder are on there,'' she said. "It's a help in preparing the kids. Even though they've done it from year to year, it's a good refresher."

Besides, said Korf, whose husband is Rabbi Alter Korf of the Chabad Jewish Center of Greater St. Petersburg, the app provides a good checklist in the hustle and bustle leading up to the holiday.

And, "You can take it with you," she said.

Created by, the free software is available from Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store for iOS and Android devices. Within a week of its release, there were 20,000 downloads, Rabbi Korf said.

"It is really an incredible tool. We released the app because there is so much that goes into Passover," he said. "The most beautiful thing, including the practicality of it, is it relates to the younger generation. It's a great way for connecting them to Passover. What better way to get the youth engaged in the steps of preparing for Passover than to have it on an app?"

The rabbi gave a demonstration recently to a group of teenagers at the Chabad Jewish Center, 4010 Park St. N. Ari Zimmer, a 16-year-old Shorecrest Preparatory School student, likes the digital aid.

"It is basically an all-around tool for Passover. A lot of people really struggle in this society, since we are not all in a little shtetl (village) in Europe anymore," said Zimmer, whose family will head to Boynton Beach to celebrate the holiday with his 88-year-old grandmother, a retired pediatrician.

Zimmer also thinks that the app will help "make order of the whole holiday" and be useful to his mother by offering her additional recipes. It will also benefit him and his father, he said, since they provide "the backbone and the structure to the seder."

The Passover Assistant app also provides the correct time to begin the ritual search for chametz — the leavened grains forbidden during Passover. The night before the holiday begins, the rabbi said, a ritual search is made for the chametz, using a candle, feather and spoon. The purposely placed chametz is collected in the spoon and burned the following morning.

To 17-year-old Victoria Bischoff, who is in Rabbi Korf's teen group and is a mentor to younger children in the Chabad center's Hebrew school, the new software is "really cool."

"It's something people can use internationally and all you need is a smartphone, and everybody has it," she said.

The Lakewood High School student said she will share the app with her mother.

Jackie Kanner, who found out about the app in Chaya Korf's Lunch & Learn class, is similarly enthusiastic.

"It actually sings the prayers. So we can sing along with it in the right tune, because we are all tone-deaf," she said with a laugh.

Kanner, who describes herself as more into the tradition of celebrating Passover than observing it "to the letter of the law," said preparation can be daunting.

"I made the chicken soup a week ahead and froze it," she said, adding that she looked at the recipes on the Passover Assistant app and found them quite simple.

"I would definitely use one or two. I also thought, what was nice was the story of the seder plate," said Kanner, who has three adult sons and a year-old grandson.

She likes that the app explains the meaning behind the symbolic items that are placed on the seder plate, like the bitter herbs, the charoset — a mixture of apples and nuts —- and an egg.

"If you are a new married couple, this app would be so helpful, because there are lots of books on Passover and sometimes, it's very intimidating,'' she said. "This is quite easy to use.

"I am going to tell my husband, so he could check out some of the prayers."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at or (727) 892-2283.


  1. Times
Dania Vizzi, now, 24  of Odessa, stands for a portrait on the skeet range at Silver Dollar Shooters Club in Odessa. An Olympic hopeful, she won a bronze medal at the 2019 Pan American Games. Tampa Bay Times
    The Vizzi family turned agricultural land into a private skeet shooting range for aspiring Olympian without Pasco County permission.
  2. Amber Carr, center, wipes a tear as her sister, Ashley Carr, left, and attorney Lee Merritt, right, listen to their brother Adarius Carr talk about their sister, Atatiana Jefferson during a news conference Monday, Oct. 14, 2019 in downtown Dallas. The family of the 28-year-old black woman who was shot and killed by a white police officer in her Fort Worth home as she played video games with her 8-year-old nephew expressed outrage that the officer has not been arrested or fired. (Irwin Thompson/The Dallas Morning News via AP) AP
    The white, former Fort Worth police officer has been booked in jail on a murder charge for the shooting of a black woman through a window in her home.
  3. Tikerria Nashay Bell, 21, was arrested on a charge of attempted murder. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
    She fled with their 18-month-old daughter, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
  4. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    Police say it appears the girl was accidentally left inside the Jeep on Monday morning.
  5. The Tampa Bay Times' annual Medicare Guide explains how the program is set up, helps you compare options available in the Tampa Bay area, and points the way toward help, including free, one-on-one assistance. This illustration will grace the cover of LifeTimes on Oct. 23, when the guide will be published in print. RON BORRESEN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    As the open enrollment period begins, it’s time to review your coverage.
  6. The Medicare Handbook for 2020 is a good resource to have as the annual open enrollment period gets under way. The government usually mails beneficiaries a copy. Find a PDF version to print at, or call 1-800-633-4227 (1-800-MEDICARE) to order a copy. THOMAS TOBIN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The open enrollment period, which lasts into December, is a time for millions of beneficiaries to review, and possibly change, their coverage.
  7. Medicare's online Plan Finder has been redesigned and is available at THOMAS TOBIN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The most-used tool on will look different this year.
  8. Jim Tolbert, left, staffs a booth at a senior expo for Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders, or SHINE, a state program that answers Medicare and other insurance questions. The program has scheduled a number of events around the Tampa Bay area during Medicare's open enrollment period, Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. Times (2015)
    About 500 volunteers statewide are at the ready. They work for Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders, or SHINE, now in its 28th year.
  9. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    The Fort Myers woman stepped in front of the plane and was struck.
  10. James Dailey, 73, is set to be executed on Nov. 7 for the 1985 murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio. Left: Dailey at his 1987 trial, where he was convicted and sentenced to death. Middle: Dailey in 1993, when he was again sentenced to die. Right: The most current photo of Dailey on Florida's Death Row. Tampa Bay Times
    James Dailey’s execution remains set for Nov. 7. On Monday, a judge denied efforts to overturn his death sentence after a former prosecutor testified.