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Service for deaf and hearing impaired offered for fourth year at Montclair synagogue

MontclairThursday, September 29, 2011    
Last updated: Thursday September 29, 2011, 8:21 AM
The Montclair Times

It's not just for people who are deaf or have some type of hearing loss. Open captioning is for everyone.

For the fourth year, Bnai Keshet Reconstructionist Synagogue is offering open captioning, or Communication Access Realtime Translation [CART], during High Holy Day services, which began last night.

Prayers and readings from the service are typed as they are spoken and appear on a large screen visible from practically any spot in the sanctuary.

Associate Rabbi Darby Jared Leigh, one of a small number of deaf men and women ordained as rabbis, said many people, not just those with hearing problems, can benefit from it.

"People who can hear just fine, but might process information better visually, might be reading along when they're listening, but they're not deaf or hearing impaired," Leigh said. "When there is CART, everybody in the room uses it, for one reason or another."

While it may be a distraction for some, it could be considered a tool for better focusing on prayer, meditation, and reflection, said the synagogue's rabbi, Elliott Tepperman. "This is an opportunity to rededicate yourself to what you're most concerned with focusing on," Tepperman said.

Leigh noted, "Even the people who say it's a distraction … it becomes a spiritual tool for them to train their focus. They are using it too."

For people who are deaf or hearing impaired, it's a big opportunity for inclusion during a very special time, the rabbis said.

"Part of why we are committed to this is that it's great for everybody," said Leigh, who introduced CART to the synagogue when he came in 2008.

The synagogue does not keep track of how many people use the service. But Tepperman guessed that less than 50 people either fully or partially use CART. Tepperman said that on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, more than 600 people typically attend services.

In some cases, perhaps, having a visual tool has helped participants understand portions of the service that they hadn't before, Tepperman said.

"If you missed hearing what page number we're on, it pops back up a moment later," he said. "Part of being a welcoming community is making the service as accessible as possible for everyone."

Leigh noted, "The value of it far exceeds the headcount number.

"Deafness and hearing impairment are invisible. You can tell how many people are in a wheelchair … but you can't count in a congregation where you're providing real-time captioning."

Leigh said he knows of some synagogues in New Jersey that use American Sign Language interpreters, but he doesn't know of any others that use CART. Cost may be a factor, but it's a technology that isn't widely known, according to Leigh.

"People don't know that this is available," Leigh said. "And people don't know what a difference it would make."

One northern New Jersey synagogue, which typically uses a sign language interpreter for the High Holy Days but will not have one this year, has made arrangements with Bnai Keshet to send over its members who use it, according to Leigh.

"Bnai Keshet has an open door. We don't require that you be a member of Bnai Keshet to come and worship."

Action pledge cards will be distributed this year, displaying 15 ways people can volunteer, serve food at homeless shelters, work to strengthen education systems, and learn about global hunger and gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual equality, Tepperman said. Also, the synagogue will hold its annual food drive for the Human Needs Food Pantry, and national nonprofit organization MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. Bags will be available on Rosh Hashanah at Central Presbyterian Church, where the synagogue's High Holy Day services will be held.

The synagogue rents the CART equipment, and Leigh said there is a commitment to maintaining the service.

Source: http://www.northjersey.com/news/130759778_The_hear_t__of_the_Holy_Days.html

At Golda Och, a Lesson on the Meaning of 'I'm Sorry'

By Jennifer Tornopsky
September 28, 2011

Rosh Hashanah lesson at Golda Och Academy brings home message of atonement.

Slih'a, the Hebrew word for sorry, was the theme of teacher Paula Spack's first grade Rosh Hashanah lesson this past Monday morning.

PHOTO: Teacher Paula Spack helps a student decide what to draw for her Tov, good, and Lo Tov, not good, drawing. Credit Jennifer Tornopsky

Speaking predominately in Hebrew, Spack, a teacher at the conservative Jewish Golda Och Academy, led her 16 students through a series of activities and stories designed around the New Year holiday's message of atonement.

GoldaOch1The lesson, targeted for 6 year olds, focused on saying I'm sorry for mistakes made during the year.

Spack started the lesson by blowing the shofar, an instrument traditionally made of a ram's horn, and used in Jewish ceremonies to welcome the New Year. She asked her students what the shofar was saying. Students collectively responded, "Shana Tova," which means a good year in Hebrew.

PHOTO: Jacob and hisTov, good, and Lo Tov, not good, drawing. Credit Jennifer Tornopsky

She then engaged the class using sign language. Spack asked the students to raise their left hand "to make a very important 's' word." Folding her four fingers down onto her palm and bringing her thumb to lie across the reposed fingers, she demonstrated how to form the manual alphabet sign language symbol for the letter "s." She then asked them to "put your hand on your heart and make a circle." The "s" word was slih'a or sorry. The gesture, she told her students, meant "sorry was coming from the heart."

GoldaOch2The students then gathered on mats at the front of the classroom where Spack read stories depicting scenarios where children acted Tov, Hebrew word for good, or Lo Tov, Hebrew phrase for not good. Spack asked her students if there was something they did last year that was not "your best you." She went on to say, "we all make mistakes so we all have to say we're sorry." She also told the students how there are two sides to slih'a. "We have to say slih'a and we also have to say Tov. I accept your slih'a."

PHOTO: Paula Spack talking with Grace about her picture. Credit Jennifer Tornopsky

The lesson concluded with children drawing a Lo Tov and Tov situation they encountered over the year. One student Jacob, drew a picture of his Mora (Hebrew word for teacher) Rachel asking him to do something and he didn't listen the first time. The Tov portion of his picture has him saying I'm sorry to her and she is giving him a hug. Grace, another student, said her Lo Tov picture was her "mommy telling me to get out of the pool." For her Tov response she said "then I got out of the pool."

GoldaOch3Spack, an alumnus of the school herself, has been teaching at the institution for 23 years. The Rosh Hashanah holiday starts Wednesday night at sunset.

PHOTO: Grace and her Tov, good, and Lo Tov, not good, drawing. Credit Jennifer Tornopsky



Source: http://livingston.patch.com/articles/learning-the-meaning-of-im-sorry

The Jewish Museum in NY Provide Interpreted Tour

JackKeatsThe Jewish Museum is offering a sign interpreted Tea Time tour of the special exhibition "The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats."

The tour will be immediately followed by a reception with light refreshments with Museum staff.

All Access tours and programs are FREE of charge, but require advance registration prior to September 28th. Contact the Scheduling and Access Coordinator at 212.423.3225, TTY 212.660.1515 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Space is limited.

Source: http://us.mg4.mail.yahoo.com/neo/launch?.rand=dkp7bjch6lfe0

Local Deaf Jewish Group Formed in Rochester

DeafRochesterThe JewishDeafRochester.org website has been launched. Registered by Alan Spanjer, the website states that it is being formed by an independent organization composed of Jewish families in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community in Rochester, NY.

Recent events, according to the website, included Purim Shabbaton 2011, Pizza Night and Jewpardy. All denominations are welcome to all events.

An upcoming event is the Succot Party on Sunday, October 16th from 4 to 6 pm. For information, email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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