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Video and blog postings from JDMM

JDMM_Riverside_DeafNationThe Jewish Deaf Multimedia (JDMM) posted the following videos and blogs the past month:

> VIDEO: Parshas Behar
Towards the end of the third book (Leviticus) of the Five Books of Moses is Parshas Behar.

The word "behar" literally means "on a mountain" - it refers to Mount Sinai, the mountain on which the Torah was given to the Jewish nation.

In this parsha video from Jewish Deaf Multimedia, you will find out the connection between Mt. Sinai, humility, and a good dose of Jewish pride.

          http://jewishdeafmultimedia.createsend3.com/t/r/l/jtituil/ukliltwh/i/

> BLOG: Deaf Nation - Riverside, CA
This past Friday, we were honored to have a physical presence at the Deaf Nation expo in Riverside, California. With BIS Video Relay Services as a proud sponsor, Jewish Deaf Multimedia had a booth among the hundred different booths offering services to the deaf community.

Why was it so important to us to be able to do this?

          http://jewishdeafmm.org/blog/photos/13294843

> VIDEO: Parshas Bechukosai
This week's parsha - Parshas Bechukosai - is the last parsha in the Book of Leviticus.

"Bechukosai" - "in my laws" - comes from the Hebrew root for "engrave." Rashi (the foremost commentator on the Torah) explains that this speaks about the mitzvah to study the Torah diligently. What's the connection between the two?

          http://jewishdeafmm.org/parshas-bechukosai

> BLOG: The Fire Within ASL - A Lag BaOmer Thought

LagBaOmerIn this blog, JDMM elaborates on the connection between sign language and the ultimate purpose of the world (revealed G-dliness).

          http://jewishdeafmm.org/blog/photos/13323955

 

> VIDEO: Pasha Bamidbar
JDMM starts a new book in the Five Books of Moses - the Book of Numbers. The first parsha in this book is Bamidbar.

In this week's parsha, we see how G-d commands Moses to take a census of the Jewish nation in the desert. Why would G-d command us to do a census if He already knows the exact number (isn't He G-d, after all?)? And what does the census teach us about our relationship with G-d?

          http://jewishdeafmm.org/parshas-bamidbar

> BLOG: The Jewish Take on the LIS Controversy
If you have been following the news on the protests in support of LIS (Italian Sign Language), this blog reports on the issue from a Jewish perspective.

          http://jewishdeafmm.org/blog/photos/13332879

> VIDEO: Parshas Naso
Among the various commandments mentioned in this week's parsha is the mitzvah of bikkurim - first fruits. Every Jewish farmer in Israel was obligated to bring the first fruits of their produce to the Temple in Jerusalem, recite a special "confession," and then give the fruits to a kohen (descendant of Aaron the High Priest).

Now, if the fruits are given to a kohen in any case, why would a farmer have to travel all the way to the Temple in Jerusalem if he could give these fruits to the first kohen he met - even if he lived next door? Why did he have to go to the Temple anyways?

          http://jewishdeafmm.org/parshas-naso

Barbara Boyd Creative Writing Award program

BBoydDr. Roz Rosen, director of the National Center on Deafness (NCOD) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has announced that they have founded the Barbara Boyd Creative Writing Award program.

"You can see these if you click on Barbara’s name on www.csun.edu/ncod. Or more specifically, you can go to http://www.csun.edu/ncod/news/barbara/boyd.html. Your donations will enable us to start a Barbara Boyd Creative Writing Award program. Please do consider giving back to CSUN in honor of Barbara."

PHOTO: Thanks to Stephen Brenner who found this old picture taken in March 29, 1998 "in my office where Barbara Boyd came to Washington DC as President of JDC to help celebrating our local WSJD's 25 anniversary affair at Ole Jim House, on Gallaudet University campus. Sat with her was our Master of Ceremony Alan Arbabanel. It was wonderful to have her being with all of us at that time!!", Brenner reminisces.

Dr. Roz Rosen, Director
National Center on Deafness
California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff Street Northridge, CA 91330-8267
Phone: 818.677.2611
Fax: 818.677.4899
VP: 818.435.8344 or 818.725.1024
www.csun.edu/ncod

Reflections from members of the CJLS

RabbinicalAssemblyEditor's Note: "Deaf issues" was discussed at recent meetings of Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) according to these postings on the Rabbinical Assembly website:

Reflection from CJLS meeting on May 25, 2011

I share with you one iinsight stemming from a teshuvah (legal responsum) we discussed this week at the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards on the question of the heresh (one who is deaf) and to what extent sign language can, halakhically, stand-in for speech when creating rituals that permit the non-hearing community to be as fully enfranchised within Jewish life as possible.  Many around the table got stuck on the matter of Torah-reading.  Blessings can be recited in any language, according to halakhah.  One may recite the Amidah in English.  And so there is no reason a non-hearing person cannot "recite" blessings using signs.  Does that extend to Torah-reading?  What is the status of a Torah-service in which the congregation is non-hearing, and at which the way that the Torah is read is by means of a non-hearing person reading directly from the Torah scroll, but instead of chanting/articulating what s/he reads simultaneously signs it?  Many agreed that while sign language is a/the primary language for the non-hearing community, the rendering of the words of the Torah into sign is, itself, a translation, a "targum" and not a direct recitation.  Most linguists consider sign language to be a language in and of itself.  American Sign Language differs from  Hebrew Sign Language, and Hebrew sign language is not, itself, Hebrew.  Nor is there any certain way to render biblical Hebrew into sign-language completely faithful to the nuance of the original.  Therefore, we would encourage the non-hearing community to experience the Torah in this way, to engage in learning the Torah this way, but we may not be able to claim, halakhically, that was is taking place is fulfillment of the mitzvah of "kriat haTorah b'tzibbur" -- reading the Torah in public.

What struck me in this exchange was the idea that, quietly, informed it: there is sanctity--unique, supreme, perhaps even mystical sanctity--to hearing our holy Torah chanted, perfectly, in the original.  Think about it.  For many regular shul-goers, Hebrew is not a fully, or immediately, comprehensible language.  This is true for many Torah-readers!  And so the exercise of reading Torah in our shuls often involves a non-Hebrew-speaker chanting Hebrew sounds/syllables to an audience that, mostly, does not understand the words.  And yet we consider that ritual to be, in its pristine state, so sacred and unimpeachable that we would consider a rendering of the Hebrew text into a medium that would be comprehensible (ie, English for our community, sign-language for the non-hearing community) somehow less than authentic.

I raise this point not to question whether our association with Torah-in-Hebrew ought to persist; I believe it should.  I raise it to have us consider what it means for the individual Jew, and the community of Jews, to pray and, quite literally, "hear revelation" every week in a foreign language.  Religion pushes us beyond the rational, and engages the mystical.  Whether we are full-blown kabbalists who impute to each Hebrew letter unlimited power and import, or Jews looking to taste and touch  something of the transcendent, the Hebrew text, the Hebrew word and the Hebrew chant is our medium.  Let that sink in this weekend as you recite the Shema, savoring each syllable, asking yourself why it is more meaningful articulating "Sh'ma yis-ra-el..." than "Hear O Israel."  Consider it as you listen to the reader bring you in to Parshat Bemidbar in what is most likely not your natural tongue.  Let the Hebrew enter into your soul, to a place where, we believe, only it can reach.

Rabbi Adam Kligfeld is the rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles

Reflection #2 from CJLS meeting on May 25, 2011

At the most recent meeting of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, we explored the issue of communal pray in a minyan for the non-hearing.  There was general consensus that the Talmudic era strictures placed upon the non-hearing were based on a lack of knowledge about the cognitive abilities of the deaf; had our rabbinic ancestors been privy to the information we possess, in all likelihood they would have framed the halakhah governing the heresh (one who is deaf) quite differently.  Committed though we are to the sources of our tradition, the Conservative approach to halakhah has never shied away from making use of scientific knowledge in framing new approaches to age-old questions as integral to the halakhic process.  It is not surprising, then, that members of the Committee agreed with near unanimity to the elimination of myriad constraints placed upon the ability of a non-hearing shaliah tzibbur (prayer leader) to lead services in sign language for the deaf community.

There was debate, however, over the permissibility of signing from the Torah as part of a communal Torah service in which individuals called to the scroll would recite the aliyah blessings.  If sign language is a language like any other, can it be said that signing is identical to “reading” the Hebrew words present on the scroll, or is the act more analogous to translating and interpreting the original in a different language?  While there is a long and venerable history to the translation of the Torah reading into the vernacular during worship, doing so has never served as a replacement for reading the Hebrew text in the original.

Beyond the specifics of any ritual discussion, halakhic discourse often furnishes us with a way to express profound truths unrelated to the parameters of the issue itself.  Ours is a tradition rich with multi-layered understandings of text, one in which we are invited to comment, interpret, and exercise our religious imagination.  Yet despite this license – or more correctly, because of it – our forebears insisted that the public reading of the Torah in Hebrew attest to an urtext of Jewish unity, a kind of foundational dinner plate upon which the delicacies of midrash might be heaped.  If the “Torah is a minimum of revelation and a maximum of interpretation,” as Abraham Joshua Heschel once noted, it is based on our common embrace of a single text, even if we sometimes understand that text differently from our ancestors or from one another.

This lesson is not only worth considering with the approach of Shavu’ot, but is particularly appropriate in a world where we often blur the distinctions between spin and plain meaning.  Rather than bother to read the speech of prominent political and cultural figures and then make up their own minds about what was (or wasn’t) said, too many rely on the blogosphere to tell them not only what was intended, but sometimes even what was articulated.  The danger lies not in using such filters to help us make better sense of the infinite sea of information through which we daily navigate, but in forgetting the substantive difference between an original and the distillation of its meaning through translation.

Rabbi Jonathan Lubliner is the rabbi at Jacksonville Jewish Center in Jacksonville, FL

Source: http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/jewish-law/committee-jewish-law-and-standards/reflections-members-cjls

Jewish Deaf People on Facebook is growing!

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     Jewish Deaf Congress Conference

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