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Saturday Morning Services Sign-Interpreted, Manhattan

TandVManhattan’s T&V Synagogue will host another sign-language-interpreted Shabbat Morning Service.

Saturday Morning, August 20th
10am to 12:30pm
Town & Village Synagogue
334 E. 14th Street
Manhattan, NY

Interpreters will be Jessica Ames and Naomi Brunnlehrman. Note:  pen, paper or electronic devices can't be used.

ASL interpreters at both Kol Nidre Service and an aufruf are planned. More details to come as it becomes available.

For information, email Bram Weiser at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call 212-677-0368, Voice.

Source: Bram Weiser

Jewish DeafBlind Shabbat In November

PearlstoneCenter for Jewish Education (CJE) announces that Our Way NCJD is sponsoring Jewish Deafblind Shabbat Experience at Pearlstone Retreat in Reisterstown, MD on Nov 18-20th.

For information and to sign up, go to http://cjebaltimore.org/upimagescje/DB%20shabbaton%20fillable%20app.pdf

Source: WSJD News

July Video and Blog Postings from JDMM

ParshasBalakParshas Masei
Life is a journey . . . and you are the traveller. This parsha discusses the journeys of the Children of Israel and making 42 stops on the way to Israel. The Torah teaches us that life is indeed an journey. When we look back, we seel stops...

     Play video - http://jewishdeafmm.org/parshas-masei

Parshas Mattos
Vows are taken very seriously in Judaism. When a person uses a vow to prohibit something on himself, he must be careful not to violate his vow.

But why would the Torah give us the idea of making vows? Doesn't the Torah forbid enough things for us - do we really have to go and add more to the list?

     Play video - http://jewishdeafmm.org/parshas-mattos

Parshas Balak
This week's parshas talks about the king of Moab (Balak) and a non-Jewish prophet (Bilam) who wanted to curse the Jewish nation, but they ended up giving us blessings.

     Play video - http://jewishdeafmm.org/parshas-balak

Parshas Pinchas
A Jew named Pinchas is the main character in the parsha.He wasn't born a kohen (a title given to descendants of Aaron the High Priest), but he earned this name after boldly standing up for G-d's honor.

     Play video - http://jewishdeafmm.org/parshas-pinchas

Blog Posting: "Boldly Standing Up"

Source: Jewish Deaf Multimedia

Helping Hands

Hamodia - The Daily Newspaper of Torah Jewry
By Yosef Gesser

Rabbi Shalom Lependorf has been working with the deaf community for close to forty years. He is a shining example of how one individual can make a difference in the lives of those who are challenged.

About two decades ago the Jewish deaf and hard-of-hearing had few if any services available to assist them in their spiritual growth. Harbatzas haTorah and kiruv rechokim had begun to flourish among the general population, but the deaf could not take advantage of those opportunities to grow in Torah learning and observance. Rabbi Lependorf and others like him have taken these concepts to a completely new level, using their skills in communicating with the deaf to make  the joys of Torah accessible to Jewish hearing-impaired individuals of diverse backgrounds, in the process bringing them out of isolation and enabling them to identify with their fellow Jews.

Training to Help the Deaf
Shalom Lependorf was inspired to pursue his calling while visiting schools for the handicapped, in particular the Lexington School for the Deaf, as part of his education at Brooklyn College during the 1970 spring semester. He began to volunteer his time at Lexington, whose administrators admired his dedication to its students and sponsored his training in the field at Columbia and New York Universities. He enrolled in courses that would later enable him to provide counseling and rehabilitation services for the hard-of-hearing. He learned sign language, as well as the John Tracy Clinic’s method of training the deaf to become proficient in language and communication.

He began to use his newly acquired skills at the St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf in Brooklyn, serving as a preschool language tutor for students as young as five.

From 1981 to 1999, Rabbi Lependorf coordinated the program for the deaf at Edward R. Murrow High School in Flatbush, the largest high-school program of this type in the country.

Formal education played a relatively small part in enabling him to master American Sign Language (ASL), which he learned mostly from deaf friends and acquaintances who were sign-language speakers. (ASL is the cultural language of the deaf; there are many other types of sign language.)

Access to Shiurim
Ironically, Rabbi Lependorf’s involvement with the Jewish deaf began while he was working at St. Francis. One day a staff member requested that he arrange bar mitzvah tutoring for a Jewish student in the school. Lependorf took care of this request but did not rest there. He felt that Jewish students in a state-run educational institution with a non-Jewish religious ideology needed a different setting, and he succeeded in having many of them transferred to a school where they would not be vulnerable spiritually.

Later on he began to give shiurim to the deaf and was involved in Shabbatonim and Yom Tov programming, such as sukkah parties, under the auspices of the Beth Torah for the Deaf group.

Today there is a greater awareness of the need to service the Jewish disabled, including the deaf, and as a result increased opportunities are being made available to them. Only two decades ago, this was not so. Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Rav of Brooklyn’s Khal Bnei Yitzchok, was one of the few who had a sign-language interpreter at his weekly shiur. Rabbi Lependorf recalls that in those days, when he signed at shiurim, most attendees could not understand why he was gesturing so dramatically, but eventually they learned what he was doing. In addition, deaf congregants (even those who could articulate the brachos) who were formerly deprived of an aliyah to the Torah can accept one today.

Helping on a Communal Scale
Rabbi Lependorf has his own sources of inspiration. He avows that the father of the movement to help the Jewish deaf is Rabbi Eliezer Lederfeind, who has directed the Orthodox Union’s Our Way for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing project (which has been discussed in Hamodia in the past) since its founding in 1969. The project provides resources, services and social programming for Jews with hearing issues, as well as for family members and others who interact with this population.

The deaf experience a sense of isolation from both the world at large because of their communication gap, and from the Jewish community due to their limited ability to perform certain mitzvos. Rabbi Lederfeind’s project reaches out to them, opening doors to religious, social, educational, and vocational opportunities and bridging the gap between the hearing and the nonhearing.

This past June, Our Way hosted its annual Shabbaton in conjunction with the National Jewish Council for Disabilities in West Orange, New Jersey. At the event, to his surprise, Rabbi Lependorf received the Rabbi David Rabinowitz Memorial Service Award in recognition of his decades of effort on behalf of the deaf and hard-of-hearing. (Rabbi Rabinowitz was the first deaf ordained rabbi in the United States; see sidebar on next page.)

As a counselor to the Jewish deaf, Rabbi Lependorf, who is the principal of a yeshivah in Brooklyn, serves as an advisor to the Jewish Deaf Singles Registry (JDSR), which was established with the help of Rabbi Lederfeind and provides a database and numerous services for Jewish deaf singles around the world.

In recent years it has become possible to train the deaf to communicate orally, a success that was facilitated by the technological breakthrough of the cochlear implant, a device that offers the hope of restoring the ability to hear. While this prosthetic device has helped many, the services provided by Our Way and Rabbi Lependorf are still invaluable for those who are not candidates for the implant or who have chosen not to undergo the surgery for other reasons.

Torah for the Hearing-Impaired
Rabbi Lependorf has been signing the popular Navi shiur given by Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Rav of Flatbush’s Agudath Israel of Madison, on Motzoei Shabbos for the last thirteen years or so. This commitment started when he began to attend the shiur with one of his deaf Jewish public-school students, interpreting the shiur to him each week in the back of the shul. Eventually, at the Rav’s behest, the pair moved up front, and afterwards, other Jewish deaf people began to participate as well.

As a sign-language interpreter at shiurim, Rabbi Lependorf has developed about five hundred signed words for Torah study denoting names of sefarim and other terms.

Agudath Israel has video archives of signed Navi shiurim, and Our Way has some signed shiurim on halachah and shalom bayis.

At the last Siyum HaShas in March 2005, Rabbi Lependorf interpreted the English-language drashos for forty to fifty hearing-impaired participants, while Rabbi Shimon Katz signed the Yiddish-language lectures. This arrangement was made by one of Rabbi Lependorf’s most dedicated students, Mr. Shimon Steinhaus, an alumnus of Gateshead Yeshivah in England, who has built a model family with his wife despite his limitation.

Rabbi Lependorf also signed the sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, at the Rebbe’s farbrengens during the 1980s.

“We need more frum interpreters,” Rabbi Lependorf says. “Even if community members could learn some of the signs, it would be extremely meaningful for their hard-of-hearing counterparts.”

Source: http://www.hamodia.com/inthepaper.cfm?ArticleID=973


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