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Short film on Holocaust, "Five Needles" in UK

FiveNeedles1Julian Peedle-Calloo, who describes himself as a deaf British Director, shared information with JDCC about his short film, "Five Needles" which has been broadcast on the Community Channel and Film4 in the UK (September 12th).

"The story follows 4 Deaf women in the concentration camps during WW2 who are hiding their Deafness to stay alive. After researching the secrets and accounts from during the war and in concentration camps of the past I soon realised that this was a story that must be told.

"The truth about what happened to the deaf or the disabled is not something that was ever recorded; it is just assumed that persons who fell into this category were automatically gassed and left for dead.
"Only now are there a few cases in America where deaf people have spoken out about what happened to them in the wars and in concentration camps.

"When I discovered this it sparked a thought in me and I started looking further into it – I then discovered that in fact there were deaf Jewish people who actually survived the camps.

FiveNeedles"This story is a testament to the resilience of people who if spotted had a 0% chance at any survival.

"It helps to document the history of the deaf community and shine a light on just how they managed to survive such a cruel and harsh ordeal when the odds really were stacked against them.

"This film was funded by Neath Films and was supported by the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust. It was produced and directed on a miniscule budget of 2000 pounds. All of the crew, actors, makeup artists, caterers etc gave of their time and experience for very low fees – it was amazing to see just how much can be achieved without having a pot of money."

A "Five Needles" trailer can be seen on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZdtZVxLSZ8

Source: Julian Peedle-Calloo, Deaf British Director.

Program to tailor ulpan for immigrants with disabilities

UlpanThe Jersualem Post ~ JPost.com
By RUTH EGLASH
26/09/2011     

The new style Hebrew ulpan is specially tailored to teach those with special needs the language of their newly adopted country.

Immigrants with disabilities who feel locked out of the fast paced learning environment of the mainstream ulpan system, will soon have a new opportunity to study Hebrew if an initiative currently being piloted in Haifa is successful.

Under the auspices of Israel Unlimited, a partnership between the government, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Ruderman Family Foundation aimed at improving the overall inclusion of people with disabilities in society, the new style ulpan is specially tailored to teach those with special needs the language of their newly adopted country.

Accessibility for people in wheelchairs, shorter learning hours, an overall slower pace and teachers trained in special education and sign language are all elements that have been considered in this new style ulpan.

“The idea came from the field and we came with the research,” said Israel Unlimited’s Avital Sandler-Loeff. “It has been tried before or been addressed in individual cases but we hope that this program will also include helping immigrants with disabilities in a general sense be better absorbed in their new home.”

In Haifa, where the ulpan started in May and is being run in conjunction with the local AHVA Center for Independent Living, the program currently includes 20 new and veteran olim with varying types of disabilities who failed to learn Hebrew in the mainstream system.

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Temple Beth Solomon Sisterhood To Celebrate 50th

TBSsisterhoodThe Sisterhood at Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf will be hosting a celebration of its Golden Jubilee at Beverly Garland Holiday Inn in North Hollywood, CA on Sunday, April 22nd from 11am to 4 pm.

The TBS Sisterhood was founded in 1962. Plans include a plated lunch, special program, entertainment, Silent Auction, and Raffle.

For information, contact TBS Sisterhood  at TBS Sisterhood, PO Box 5266, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413.

Source: Congregation News, Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf

Alexis Kashar: Making Jewish Life More Accessible to the Deaf

AlexisKasharBy Susan Josephs
Fall 2011
Jewish Woman Magazine

Throughout her life as a deaf woman, Alexis Kashar felt cut off from mainstream Jewish life due to its inaccessibility. But when her oldest daughter reached bat mitzvah age, Kashar realized she could no longer accept the status quo. “I didn’t want my daughter’s rabbi to be her only spiritual role model. As a mother, it is my right to be an active part of my daughter’s Jewish experience,” she says.

A civil rights lawyer skilled in special education advocacy, Kashar applied her expertise toward making the Jewish community more accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing. Today, she’s the president of the board for the New York-based Jewish Deaf Resource Center (JDRC), a nationwide organization dedicated to transforming institutions to enable deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to fully participate in Jewish life.

Together with JDRC, Kashar secured a grant from her local Jewish Federation that provides funding for American Sign Language interpreters in synagogues and other Jewish organizations. And at her daughter’s bat mitzvah, the entire service was made accessible to everyone, including her deaf relatives and friends. “It was the first time my family prayed together in the same sanctuary where we were all equals,” she recalls.

Currently a full-time activist based in Westchester, N.Y., Kashar, 44, also serves as president of the board of trustees for the New York School for the Deaf and chairs the public policy committee for the National Association for the Deaf. Advocacy, she says, “is in my blood. I can’t just write a check for things and walk away. All of these causes have a personal impact on my life, as well as my family and future generations.”

Descended from deaf parents and grandparents, Kashar never thought of herself as different or disadvantaged from hearing peers: “My parents taught me to be my own best advocate.” Raised in New York and Texas, she began her education at a school for the deaf and then, beginning in the first grade, attended local public schools, where she was the only deaf student. In high school, she and her parents fought with her local school district to provide her with a sign language interpreter. Winning this battle “changed my life. I became a full participant in my education. I was no longer restricted to direct learning by lip reading. I was now exposed to every aspect of my education, including the incidental learning that was going on all around me,” she recalls.

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