The Festival of Lights is upon us.
Revelers are frying latkes and lighting candles at sundown for eight nights to celebrate Hanukkah through Monday evening.
They’re also playing dreidel — a four-sided top spun as a holiday game — in AR and texting Hanukkah-themed stickers thanks to a boatload of apps themed for the Jewish holiday.
Here are a few of our favorite Hanukkah apps to download this week:
Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel I spun you with AR
iGevalt is a free App for iOS and gives you the bare bones dreidel experience. You can’t keep score or have multiple players since there’s no built-in profile settings. Even so, it’s still a fun and entertaining experience. While some AR apps are limited as to where they work, in my testing, iGevalt worked on both a physical table and my closed laptop lid on the train.
Those looking for a full dreidel game experience need not worry. In the aptly named, Dreidel ARena, a circle of silver coins becomes your virtual playspace as you spin the dreidel. You can challenge a computer AI or additional friends by passing the phone around. Plus, there are some other game experiences like trying to keep as many dreidels spinning as possible. Those looking for fancier dreidels can buy them in-app.
Gelt and dreidels as seen in Dreidel Arena.
Image: Dreidel ARena
On Android, the AR Dreidel market is bleaker. Digital Dreidel is a simple 3D playing experience that will work, but there are no frills. You just digitally spin a dreidel for a one-player experience. Dreidelit doesn’t have a fancy user interface and is pretty barebones On the plus side, you can customize the dreidel color and swipe to spin it.
Light the menorah digitally
Just one of the many digital menorah lighting experiences.
Image: smart menorah/app store
While the candelabra with nine candle holders is technically called a Hanukiah — a menorah is a popular, but general term for candelabras used any other time of year — app developers have stuck with the more well-known term. Jews light candles on each night of Hanukkah, adding one more to the candelabra as the eight-night holiday progresses. But if you happen to be traveling or stuck on a subway train or in an Uber during sundown, there are apps that can simulate the candle lighting experience.
If you’re willing to shell out 99 cents, Smart Menorah for iOS includes stellar graphics, a countdown timer, and the blessings one chants while lighting. Menorah – Chanukah (also iOS) is more of a how-to guide for lighting the candles, including a visualization of where to start. Plus, it is free and offers multiple language support.
The Android Play Store has many more options, but not all perform that well. Menorah Deluxe costs $1.99 and lets you customize the candle color in addition to a burn duration. My Menorah 4 Chanukah also allows you to light a digital one for free. Available for iOS and Android, My Menorah 4 Chanukah, is a fully interactive experience to celebrate the holiday. It features a talking menorah and colorful candles. You can also spin a dreidel in the same app. It claims to teach some Hebrew skills and the history of the holiday, too.
Image: My Menorah 4 Chanukah
The Hanukkah Stickers app for iOS gives you some fun iMessage graphics for free, although unlocking them all costs money. Still, it’s an excellent way to add some flair to your group texts. Remember, if you don’t want to download stickers, Android, and iOS have a built-in menorah emoji: 🕎.
Whichever app you prefer and no matter how you spell it, have a happy happy Hanukkah.