Four friends based in London – one Jewish, the others Christian, Hindu and Muslim – have developed a free booking app for places of worship as they reopen with social distancing rules.
The Prayin.io app, developed by Shneor Crombie, Patrick Dobinson, Hussein Duvigneau and Ritesh Vatwani, can be used to record test and trace data and set a maximum number of worshippers per service.
“We are four friends that have been working together for a few years in a London based startup”, explained Crombie, 36, from north London, who is a member of Ner Yisroel Hendon.
“All of us are from different backgrounds and religions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to do something to help people. We realised that in these uncertain and difficult times it is important to reunite communities,” he said.
The app, which is available on the web and will soon launch on Android and iOS, can be used to notify users when a congregant has tested positive for the virus after attending a service.
United Synagogue congregations have access to a booking system provided by the movement centrally.
But the tool, which has been recommended by the chief rabbi’s office to communities under his auspices, is being used by congregations around the world, including London’s Western Marble Arch Synagogue.
Rachel Shebabo, director of the Chief Rabbi’s Centre for Community Excellence, hailed the app as an “excellent example” of a solution to the challenges presented by the pandemic.
“The Office of the Chief Rabbi has been helping communities across the country to find solutions to the many challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
“Prayin.io is an excellent example of such a solution and the fact that it was developed as a non-profit venture by four great friends of different faith backgrounds, is all the more reason to offer it our full support!”
The app is free, Crombie said, stressing the team is not motivated by profit. “We hope that the Prayin.io app will help the congregation get back together safely and that soon our product won’t be needed anymore.”
Religious buildings across England were allowed to reopen from 4 July, to hold services and weddings with a maximum of 30 guests, subject to social distancing.