The Jewish Heritage Network (JHN) has this week launched Yahad.net – meaning ‘together’ in Hebrew – an innovative digital solution where families and friends from around the world can create virtual Passover rooms to come together and celebrate Passover from a distance. Users can create their own virtual Passover rooms for free and without time limitations.
Yahad leverages real-time communication capabilities of Agora.io, the voice, video and live interactive streaming platform who partnered on the project. The website enables users to gather virtually for Seder during a time when people are practicing social distancing worldwide and leaning heavily on technology to stay connected.
The project aims to fill an increased demand for streaming as Nielsen reports American streaming rates in March 2020 were the highest on record, up 85% from March 2019.
Users can create their own virtual Passover rooms on Yahad.net, invite their friends and family members using private codes, and interact with video and audio. Yahad’s virtual Passover rooms also have interactive features for users such as the ability to handpick a Haggah, a traditional Passover reading, from a selection of rare Haggadot provided by JHN’s Jewish museum and library partners from around the world. Together, JHN and Agora will provide users with hours of high-quality connectivity free of charge, ensuring minimal interruption.
“This pandemic is a trying time, but it has caused us all to be more creative about how we connect in our business and personal lives,” said Reggie Yativ, Chief Operating Officer at Agora. “Agora was founded on the idea of bringing communities together online to connect and collaborate in real-time by leveraging live, interactive streaming technologies. I’m proud of our partnership with Jewish Heritage Network and hope many families, similarly to my own, will use virtual rooms to celebrate Passover safely.”
Agora helped JHN build out Yahad.net in under a week, mobilizing quickly to integrate elements that would create meaningful experiences for users forced to adapt their holiday plans. JHN expects thousands of users will take advantage of the rooms during Passover, a time when 70% of Jewish Americans historically participate in Seder.
“With so many Jewish families practicing social distancing and unable to celebrate Passover together, we knew we could make a difference for the Jewish community if we could enable a way for families and friends to connect virtually,” said Alexander Raginsky, Technology Lead at JHN. “Agora’s adaptive SDK let us collaborate quickly, and in under a week we integrated high-quality video and audio into Yahad so participants could create virtual Passover rooms to celebrate more authentically.”