Photo credit: Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf Facebook page
Joe Slotnick, president of Temple Beth Solomon announced in their Congregation News:
"Many of you may remember that TBS was fortunate enough to have two Torah scrolls. The first was donated to TBS by Rose Snyder in 1985 with the help of Rabbi Erwin Herman. It was rescued from the Holocaust and rabbinic scholars estimated that it was written in the 1500s. Our second Torah was purchased in the 1990’s and is the one we currently use. The first Torah has been in storage for several years since we no longer use it, so the Board decided it was time to find a good home for it. We contacted the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) for help locating a synagogue somewhere in the world who needed a Torah. They found a deaf synagogue, called Sheket, in the city of Minsk, in the republic of Belarus which is part of the Russian commonwealth of independent states (CIS) in eastern Europe. They are the only Jewish community for Deaf/HOH Jews and their families in the CIS–a synagogue very similar to TBS when we started back in the 1960’s.
We had a brief relationship with Sheket in the 1990’s after they had requested a copy of the resource book we published Celebrating Judaism in the Home: a Manual for Deaf Jewish Families. But after we sold our property in Arleta, we lost contact with them. So now thanks to WUPJ we have been re-united with our Sister synagogue and now will have an on-going connection.
The word “Sheket” translates to a concept meaning something similar to “quiet.” Sheket is a Reform congregation with about 80 members. All of their services and programming are administered and interpreted by Lyudmila Chertova, whose position is very similar to Jan’s position at TBS. They have a pre-school and religious school of deaf and hearing children and they plan to establish Bar/Bat Mitzvah training once they receive our Torah.
Our hope and goal for this Torah is to continue its 400+ year heritage. We were extremely fortunate to have the help of the Jewish Reform community and the pioneering spirit of a determined group of Deaf parents who wanted their children to understand their history to give them the stability and foundation of this part of their identity. So in that spirit, it is our heartfelt and sincerest honor to pass that legacy on to another Deaf/HOH community to afford them the same wonderful opportunities that we have had. We pray that Sheket is able to empower their deaf children with bar/bat mitzvoth, a ceremony that deaf children have been deprived of and excluded from the world over for too long. With this, Jewish Deaf children can recognize that they can fully participate in their God given birthright.
There will be an official transfer of ownership ceremony in May in Israel during the annual convention of the WUPJ. We are not able to attend but we will send a video expressing how honored we are to be able to participate in such a momentous event for the world Deaf community."
Source: Congregation News