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Deaf Actresses Appear On Lifetime Channel

Marlee Matlin and Shoshannah Stern, both Deaf, had guest roles in the February 16th episode of "The Division." The Division is shown weekly on Sundays on the Lifetime Channel. In this episode, the show's top cops searched for a serial rapist who was targeting disabled women. The episode was part of Lifetime's campaign to promote awareness of violence against women.

Hebrew Class Taught In Sign Language

Steven Lependorf conducts a weekly class in sign language for Lubavitcher students on Thursdays in Midwood, N.Y. Using the Code of Jewish Law bythe first Lubavitcher rebbe, Schneur Zalman, Lependorf read first in Hebrew, then in English and, finally, he spoke with his hands. The six men in the class then responded with their hands. All of Lependorf's students are either hard of hearing or deaf. This night's class included a discussion of the tallit, a four-cornered prayer shawl with fringes, tzitzit, attached to each end. "It is a commandment to do all in your power to make the tallit beautiful," Lependorf told the men, speaking at once with his voice and his hands. "You are saying, `He is my God. 1 will glorify Him. It is beautiful to serve the King."'

A retired public school teacher, Lependorf, 56, has been an American Sign Language interpreter for 32 years. He has interpreted for former President Jimmy Carter, several New York governors and mayors and celebrities such as Beverly Sills and Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The classes began in November of last year in memory of Edward Goldberg, a World War II Navy hero who died that month.

His son Michael, who lives in Midwood and has a hearing loss, asked friends to join him in a year of study. Goldberg explained, "It's a custom to study in memory of someone. We'll continue studying until the anniversary of my father's death - and beyond."

Parents of Deaf Children Struggle To Provide Jewish Education

A story in the November issue of Hadassah Magazine spotlighted issues that parents of Deaf children face if they wish their children to receive a Jewish education. Four of Khana Globman's nine children are deaf. Mordekhai, the eldest, has the most residual hearing and best speech, so from the age of 12, he attended the Orthodox day school near his home in Philadelphia. Hearing aids and an auditory trainer that amplified the teacher's voice and blocked background noise were enough to mainstream him. Avrummy and Aron, the twins, and Yossi, the youngest, needed English and Hebrew interpreters in the classroom-provided mostly at the Globmans' own cost and supplemented by fund-raisers they organized. The English interpreter wasn't hard to come by, but finding someone adept in Jewish concepts as well as American Sign Language was a different story.

Globman herself spent years interpreting by her sons' sides in the yeshiva. "The Jewish community has grown tremendously in terms of accepting kids with learning disabilities, even mental retardation, but deafness is a disability that is invisible," Glubriiail says. "People don't see that you're deaf, but it's tremendously isolating."

Parents of deaf children often bear the cost-physically, emotionally and financially-of educating their children Jewishly. Though many synagogues and schools are open to providing interpreters, they rarely do so automatically or at their own cost. "Doesn't anyone recognize that these kids should be included?" asks Globman. To fill in the numerous gaps in awareness and sensitivity to those who are deaf and Jewish, parents have founded educational programs and outreach organizations.

Aaron Margolis-Greenberg, now 14, was initially rejected by the day school in Indianapolis until a major donor with a partially deaf grandson found out, says his mother, Cassia Margolis. On the phone, it's almost impossible to detect any impediment in Aaron's speech. Still, "the school insisted he needed an interpreter," Margolis recalls. "I went to the classroom and helped the teacher in other ways." Many hearing parents want their children mainstreamed, she says, but not every child succeeds. "People think speech is a measure of intelligence. It's not," says Margolis. "Parents have to come to terms with the fact that their child is not a failure." Her 8 year-old daughter, Sarah, does not speak well and attends the Indiana School for the Deaf, where eight of 300 children are Jewish.

Christian groups offer after-school Bible classes and activities, but no Jewish groups present similar programs. Margolis decided to create her own resources: she developed a series of eight ASL videotapes, called "Jewish Heritage and Holidays," available free of charge to the Jewish Deaf. "I intended them for children, but threequarters go to adults who say they never understood the Seder, never said Kaddish." The most important thing for Jewish identity, she says, is the family, heightened by the need for appropriate communication. "If the child doesn't speak well, the parents have to learn to sign, otherwise they will not be able to convey values," she says. "For those who have access to the hearing world, it's difficult but doable to access Judaism; for those who don't, it's almost impossible."

For a longer version of this story, see http://www.hadassah.org and link to the November, 2002 issue.

Cheerleaders Win International Competition

Marlo Lovitch, 17, of Northridge was in the 10-member squad of cheerleaders from California School for the Deaf, Riverside (CSDR) participating in the 1 st Annual Aloha International Spirit Championships (ISC) competition held at Waikiki Shell in Hawaii February 14 and 15, 2003. The team won first place in the Varsity Division.

The Varsity Division consists of squads of cheerleaders, from 9th to 12th grades, with team members from the same school. Twenty-nine cheerleading squads from all over U.S. participated, mostly from California. CSDR Cubs cheerleaders performed in 1 st and 2nd rounds and the scores from both rounds were averaged for the final results. "We were all in shock," Coach Stacey Hausman said of the team's win. "I was jumping up and down like a hysterical person."

The squad was the second Deaf group to ever compete in an international pep squad competition. They followed in the footsteps of Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, which competed nationally in 1992.


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