The Ultimate Digital Haggadah



A monumental multimedia retelling of the ancient text fusing calligraphy, computer design, digital animation, gold gilt painting and narration, lavishly illustrated with over 100 images from the Old Testament and prominent synagogues. “The Haggadah of the Future“, “So Beautifully crafted that it complements the elegance of the iPad”.

Text: English/Hebrew. Narration: English, 2012

Press mentions

“Inquisition shame Spaniard to create stunning illuminated Haggadah App for Passover”

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-945583?ref=feeds%2Flatest 

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Best iPhone and iPad apps for celebrating Passover

“ The Ultimate Digital Haggadah, from Downhill Publishing  is really a work of art “
best_ipad_iphone_apps_passover

 

INQUISITION SHAME SPURS SPANIARD TO CREATE STUNNING HAGGADAH APP
The Ultimate Digital Haggadah Goes 2.0 for iOS and Android
March 15, 2013
NEW YORK – 3,000 year-old traditional illuminated Passover haggadah…there’s an App for that. Downhill publishing is releasing version 2.0 of the Ultimate Digital Haggadah, expanding the experience of holding an ancient illuminated manuscript for your Passover Seder to iPad, iPhone and Android devices.
The idea for the Hagaddah began when Spanish scribe and software developer Ramon Abajo, 56, fell in love with the illuminated manuscripts of Medieval Spain. Abajo wanted to recreate that beauty for the modern age, so began studying the best examples. ”As a calligrapher, I thought some of the most impressive work in Spain’s history were the beautiful Passover Seder books, haggadot. They were created in cooperation by both Jews and Gentiles, everyone bringing their skill to tell the amazing story of the Exodus.”
But just as these Passover books reached their highest excellence, they were swept away by the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and the Inquisition. “This was the beginning of a decline in so many arts,” says Abajo, “and if I wanted to revive illuminated manuscripts in a modern digital form, I decided that I also needed to bring back the collaboration between Jews and Gentiles.”
Abajo reached out to famed Jewish haggadah collector and expert, Ben “Bentsi” Cohen who owns more than 2,000 haggadot in his private collection. At first Cohen thought the idea was strange, but when he saw the quality of work being crafted by Abajo and his team of artists at Downhill Publishing, he became their official advisor and helped to direct the creation of the text for the Ultimate Digital Hagaddah.
The result is stunning, a resurrection in look and feel of the great illuminated manuscripts of Medieval Spain. The iPad app is 107 pages (doubling that on iPhone and Android), including 100 original Biblical illustrations from artists Esther Pinto and Alberto Fernandez that juxtapose Biblical scenes with famous New York synagogues. This style follows the rich tradition of ancient illuminated Spanish haggadot which often placed Biblical miniatures near Spanish palaces and castles.
The Ultimate Digital Haggadah 2.0 is available for purchase from the App Store and Google Play for $4.99. That price brings to the masses an experience that was once only open to Jewish sages and merchant princes who commissioned hand-made illustrated haggadot at vast expense.
But technology is not only making this sumptuous experience accessible, it aims to improve upon it. The Ultimate Digital Haggadah 2.0 allows the reader to watch as each piece of artwork is illuminated step by step, sharing in the creation process. In addition, the App comes with a full narration by Walter Krochmal and beautiful Sephardic Jewish music by famed musician Gerard Edery.
The Ultimate Digital Haggadah draws upon history, but is changing present circumstances, as well. Last year, this unique App brought together during Passover the Spanish and Jewish communities in New York to explore their joint history in illuminated texts. The event was hosted by the Spanish Benevolent Society and Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest synagogue in America. Attendees included high level members of the Consulate of Spain, the Instituto Cervantes and the American-Sephardi Association.
“The Haggadah App is a delightful method of bridging the old and the new,” says Rabbi Hayyim Angel, Chief Rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel, “the painstaking efforts to beautify our sacred texts are nothing short of breathtaking. And harnessing this tradition to build community is a worthy effort.”
Working on the Haggadah has had a life-changing effect on Ramon Abajo. “I have lived in the United States for 26 years, but the area I came from in Spain was historically Jewish. Who knows if my ancestors were Jews? Working on the Haggadah has been like coming home.” Abajo has become an active member of ASEI (Spain-Israel Solidarity Association) and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain. He has even enrolled his son in a Jewish day school.

Now Abajo hopes his creation, the Ultimate Digital Haggadah, will allow others to experience what made him fall in love with Jewish heritage. “The interface, the narration, the music, the biblical animations, the feel and look invite users to submerge themselves in the spirit of Passover the minute they start up the application on their iPads, iPhones, or Android devices.”

About

By bentsi Cohen

The last 1,000 years have seen generation after generation of enterprising artists employing their finest talents to present a fresh take on the Haggadah, the text of the Jewish Passover ritual, so that currently a great variety of Haggadot can be found on the marketplace. Some invest their intellectual energies in presenting new interpretations of the text. Others endowed with artistic ability illustrate their best graphical view of the story. For Passover 2012, this venerable tradition continues with the triumphant presentation of the world’s first interactive multimedia digital version of this ancient and beloved text. Readers and lovers of this great story in the dawn of the media revolution, where instantaneous searches for life queries and solutions can be found electronically at the speed of light, will soon be able to download this work onto their iPads or computers.

Future projects envision a limited edition of an illuminated manuscript the “The book of Ruth”, produced on authentic vellum parchment.The driving force behind this project is digital graphic design specialist and font master Ramón Abajo, whose talents cover many areas of the field. He tells the story of how he became enamored with the intricate artistic work of these texts after examining several antique Haggadot including the Golden Haggadah and the Barcelona Haggadah, two name a few. What began as an artistic attraction triggered a keen interest in the actual content and the determination to produce a version for our age. He assembled a group of artists and specialists from several countries with wide and varied backgrounds in various fields, including a former teacher and an art expert; an architect endowed with a refined and creative artistic talent; a computer graphic designer; an expert in video and digital animation; and a professional actor.

After several months of intensive labor this ingenious Haggadah for the digital age has now come to fruition, with the affable, easygoing Mr. Abajo operating as a virtuoso concert master to ensure that all the “instruments” in this unusual orchestra operate in perfect harmony. The results are dazzling.

The work began with fine artist and architect Esther Pinto creating a gallery of over 100 original and ingenious illustrations to accompany various pages of the text. The Passover story starts in Exodus. However, she chose to begin with a brief pictorial history of the Hebrews as told in Genesis before introducing the viewer to the Passover proper. These images depict iconic biblical episodes and legends, with the borrowed’ biblical themes revealing the historical life of the ancient Middle East in accordance with the structure of emblematic Haggadot such as the Golden, Barcelona and the Sarajevo versions. Then, in order to make the connection to the modern age clearer, the artists perused pictures of synagogues in New York. Fascinated by these temples, many of them landmarks, they then picked a theme at random and proceeded to superimpose the biblical theme image over line drawings of the particular synagogue. This powerful technique delivers the core message – a contemporary rendition of ancient legends fusing the old and the new. Undoubtedly, New Yorkers will be able to identify the beautiful structures chosen as background for these illustrations, while people from all over the world will also be able to feast their eyes on these regal historic buildings.The next phase of the work involved the process of how to make the static images move. Computer graphic artist Alberto Fernández came on board to lace the still art with an elaborate dynamic drawing animation. Thanks to the modern marvel of software enhancement, you can watch in amazement as the Prophet Elijah appears to visit the celebrants, each line, each dimension, each underlying pattern, each figure of the still illustration springing to life before your eyes, the ancient world reborn as if the biblical characters were descending in the flesh to visit the synagogue.

With these processes completed, I provided Mr. Abajo with translation of the Haggadah text, which in general terms hews to the traditional text. The team interlaced it with the artwork, artist Francis López adorning it with attractive frame drawings. The text editor chose to include certain instructions for the “Seder” night, while excluding commentary because this is not conceived as a study guide. All the while, Antonio Gallo presided over the computer web design to ensure a smooth interface for the final product.

The final step in the elaborate crafting of this innovative Haggadah involved bringing immediacy and drama to the ancient text so that it would be accessible to the widest range of audiences. Mr. Abajo chose actor and voice-over artist Walter Krochmal for this task. Mr. Krochmal’s audiobook-style narration dramatizes the complex ancient text clearly and crisply, infusing the story with life. The passages depicting the sorrow of servitude have a chilling effect on the imagination. Those dealing with the gaiety and happiness of redemption fill the listener with joy. Drawn in by the storytelling, we empathize with the characters and sympathize with their story. The narration fulfills the ultimate goal of the Haggadah, which is to make the listener feel as if he himself has only recently been redeemed from physical or spiritual bondage, thus becoming one with the spirituality of the Haggadah. The special artistic techniques

employed in this Haggadah skillfully embed gentle modernity into faded antiquity while also capturing the universal themes of the Haggadah. The decorative frames and colorful first letters on various pages are a copy of the antique medieval manuscripts from Western Europe. The backgrounds
with their broad, colorful brushstrokes enliven the ancient rites, while fine line drawings and rich palette of colors point to the liberation of one’s soul from intellectual or physical bondage.

The interplay of colors stresses the separation between the pure and the defiled, the holy and the profane, light and darkness. Work and labor, depicted in dark blue, must come to an end as the yellow, deep red and orange of the candlelight – colors also utilized to signify equality – make the Sabbath table glow. Clarets and white wines are employed with equal sacramental significance. The overall effect creates a powerful sense of reflection on the eternal Jewish theme of appreciation for the value of time?and its essence, the distinction between time for physical needs and time for spiritual needs.

I stress the living nature of this pioneering production, which will be improved and amplified in the near future. Until then we can learn to enjoy this beautiful virtual production as an electronic attempt to reveal the beauty of tradition and its universal symbolism, all expressed with modern tools to a public so attached to the world of electronics.

The completion of this project with all its complexities in such a short time-frame is nothing short of a miracle, the amount of work each participant invested in the endeavor incalculable. We sincerely apologize for any errors of omission and/or addition. We also ask each and every reader or listener to respond with all comments and or suggestions and corrections deemed necessary. We appreciate all comments, without reservation, addressed to

Mr. Ramón Abajo, Project Manager at Downhill Publishing Co. New York, NY. www.digitalhaggadah.com.

Contact

Downhill Publishing

Facebook

info@downhillpublishing.com

Phone: (212) 661 5757

Future Projects

-The Book of Ruth will be writting in Lamb Skin Vellum

The digital Haggadah team

 

Ramón Abajo – (Project Manager) – Founder and President of Downhill Publishing/The Vellum Page, in New York City. A native of Spain, Ramón was a teacher in London and in California for over 15 years, earning a Teacher of the Year Award in 1992. Upon retirement he revisited an old love of calligraphy and opened a studio in New York City. His credits include a range of graphic design projects, the development of software educational tools which have earned the acclaim of educational experts, and the design and development of typefaces, one of which (”Esther”) is employed in this project. His good heartedness and easy-going demeanor has made the execution of this project a work of joy to all the participants.

Esther Pinto – (Artist and Illustrator). A trained architect and painter, a native of Spain, Esther is currently in New York furthering her studies in the fine arts. An expert in researching antique manuscripts, she brings a fresh perspective to the intent of the symbolic writings that enables her to render them creatively along vibrant, contemporary lines.

Alberto Fernández – (Computer Graphic Artist). This young artist’s creativity, talent and expertise make the images in this digital Haggadah come to life, perfectly complementing the work of the still images by Esther Pinto and Francis López. His ability to incorporate the dynamics of drawings with animation and still illustration is fascinating to watch. Alberto is a piano player and free spirit.

Antonio Gallo – (Software and Web Designer). Antonio is responsible for the look and digital presentation of this Haggadah. His willingness to absorb the many technical challenges of this assignment without succumbing to its tedious details and repetitious demands speak favorably of his technical acumen. Antonio is not afraid to risk time to innovate and try new methods in his quest to accomplish his task at hand.

Francis López – (Artist). After retiring from school teaching, Francis devoted most of his free time to his life-long love of painting. He is currently actively painting in the Canary Islands, Spain, attempting to find a personal mode for the expression of his deepest thoughts and feelings through the brush and colors. His “Diaspora /Sunflower-Seeds Art Project” precisely symbolizes the extraordinary history of the Jewish people’s evolution throughout the ages and their capacity to adapt to any corner of the world that offers the minimum conditions for habitability. http://www.sunflowerseedsart.com)

Walter Krochmal – (Actor, Audio Production, Public Relations) A multifacted professional, he works as an international actor of stage and screen, a voice-over artist, a translator with several critically acclaimed published works of fiction and non-fiction in both English and Spanish, a Federally Certified Court Interpreter, a radio producer, and a specialist in integral human development. He recently founded a non-profit organization, Bronx World Film, Inc., (www.bronxworldfilm.org), dedicated to bringing high-quality art-house film to his home borough and beyond in New York City. Samples of his multidisciplinary work can be found at www.sonichoop.com. He is of Honduran and Jewish-American descent.

Ben T. Cohen – (Text Editor and Translator) This retired economist and Haggadah collector, better known to his friends as “Bentsi,” is an author and an avid collector of Passover Haggadot, with a collection numbering in the thousands and growing. His intimate knowledge of the content of the Haggadah and its allied literature enabled the project to remain true to its traditional structure. Ben published his own Haggadah several years ago, which turned into a best seller, and is the author of several other books.

Cantor Sherman Philip Cantor in Congregation Shearith Israel [Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue’], he is known throughout the New York Metropolitan as the Mohel to hire. His talent has been reviewed by most major publications in New York area.

Gil Halevy General system and computer consultant, is the owner/manager of Tavlit Itzuv VeHafakah Ltd., Carmiel, Israel, specializing in web design and all aspects of 3D . Gill can be reached at: 0119724-988-4050, Fax, 0119724-888-2736 Cell. 01197254-540-8012, web Tavlit.com, E-mail : Gil@tavlit.com [

Rabbi Meyer Leifer: (Consultant) Rabbi Leifer comes from a long and distinguished genealogy of Rabbis. Currently serving as Rabbi at Pelham Parkway Jewish Center in The Bronx and Chaplain at Morningside House, he previously served as the longtime Rabbi of Congregation Emunat Israel on 23rd Street in Manhattan.

Todd Blackmoore: Partner, Global Sales Director, Todd Blackmore has been directly involved in software and technology market for the past 20 years. Including his time at Pearson Digital Learning, Educators Publishing Service, and Zuk & Associates. Growing up in rural Alaska with native American of the Yupik and Athabaskan tribes, he learned early on that every person has different paths to succeed. His goal has always been to develop and deliver tools for people that help them in a creative environment. His personal goal exemplifies what sophisticated customers are seeking in home values: to create objects with a ”modern and spiritual life style”.
Diego Uribe Ph.D: Spanish Editor. Partner. Diego has published several books. He is an active researcher in education.

 

 

Connect it to a TV or Projector

How do I connect the  my tablet or phone  to a projector or TV?

Unlike desktop and notebook computers,  portable devices  don’t usually  have a wide variety of jacks and ports, only a headphone jack and dock connector. Using a special AV jack that utilizes the dock port, you can attach an iPad to an LCD projector.

More info HERE

If your device have  HDMI port, you can attach it to any modern tv direcly via HDMI cable.

Legal License

Is it legal to use a projector or Apple TV to display the Ultimate Digital Haggadah?

While the new portable devices such as iPad or Android are suitable for display to individuals or a small groups, you may want to view the screen using a projector. Using a special AV jack that utilizes the dock port, or Apple TV you can attach a table/phone to a LCD projector or to a TV. YOU ARE LEGALLY ENTITLED TO CONNECT SUCH DEVICES TO your portable media  to enjoy the ULTIMATE DIGITAL HAGGADAH on a small or large group without infringing Downhill Publishing’s Users License. (See “How to Connect…”)