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Allowing the Deaf to be Jews

Allowing_DeafEditor's Note: The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism published the following two articles to its website.

Article #1
by Alexis Kashar

I was born a deaf Jew. Fortunately, both my parents are deaf, as were my paternal grandparents. With three generations of deaf family, I always had the gift of full access to language through sign language. But due to our unique communication situation, my family did not have access to the greater Jewish community and I could not receive a Jewish education.

My sister Debbie is the only member of my birth family who can hear. She was trapped between the hearing world, the deaf world, and the Jewish world. She was not deaf, yet she too had no access to the greater community because it was inaccessible to our family.

After I received my law degree from the University of Texas at Austin I relocated to Los Angeles, where I focused on civil rights, specifically special education and disability rights. Little did I realize that this advocacy work would serve me well when I would become a mother.

As I was forging ahead professionally, my family expanded as well. My children all were born in Los Angeles: Leah, who is now 14, Ava, 12, and Benjamin, 9. They all are hearing.

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Scarsdale mom, advocate for the deaf lauded nationally

Scarsdale_momWritten by Rebecca Baker
gannett.com | lohud.com
12:46 AM, Nov. 28, 2011

WHITE PLAINS — At age 11, Alexis Ander Kashar got to experience a whole new state when her family moved from New York to Texas.

But when the deaf child got her first interpreter as a teenager, she got to experience a whole new world.

"For the first time I had access to everything," she said. "I understood everything around me. It changed my life."

Photo: Alexis Ander Kashar, center, of Scarsdale speaks with her sister, Debbie Kenvin, left, of Dallas and Ruth Suzman of Scarsdale at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale. She is president of both the board of trustees at the New York School for the Deaf (Fanwood) in Greenburgh and the Jewish Deaf Resource Center in Hartsdale. She is also the public policy chairwoman for the National Association for the Deaf. Kashar will be honored Dec. 5 by Jewish Women International, which has named her one of 10 "Women to Watch" in the United States. Seth Harrison/the journal news Julie Schonfeld / Seth Harrison/The Journal News

Her awakening ignited a passion for civil rights that would lead Kashar, a mother of three from Scarsdale, to be one of the most high-profile advocates for the deaf in the country. She is not only president of both the board of trustees at the New York School for the Deaf (Fanwood) in Greenburgh and the Jewish Deaf Resource Center in Hartsdale, she is the public policy chairwoman for the National Association for the Deaf.

Her tireless efforts — all done as a volunteer — will be recognized Dec. 5 by Jewish Women International, which has named her one of 10 "Women to Watch" in the United States.

"Some people ask me why do you do all of this for free?" she said. "I can't sit on the sidelines; it's not my nature."

Those who know her say Kashar is a charismatic charmer whose unending energy makes her a formidable presence .

Janet Dickinson said she was so impressed with Kashar that she didn't hesitate to accept the executive director's job at Fanwood last year.

"She sold me on the merits of this school," she said through an interpreter . "If it was not for her, I would have thought long and hard about relocating from Colorado."

When the school's state funding was threatened, Dickinson said, she and Kashar lobbied state lawmakers in Albany together. She said Kashar also spends time on campus, talking with students, helping them with projects and advising them on life in the hearing world.

"She's a wonderful, wonderful role model," Dickinson said. "There's a saying that you should ask a busy person if you want something done. Alexis is probably the busiest person I know."

Kashar's commitment to deaf advocacy started in Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth, Texas, when she was assigned a deaf interpreter for the first time. She became a leader in student government and decided to become a lawyer, enrolling in law school at the University of Texas, where she had received her undergraduate degree.

Source: http://www.lohud.com/article/20111128/NEWS02/111280317/Scarsdale-mom-advocate-deaf-lauded-nationally

LES Residence For Deaf Community To Get Major Makeover

AlexBadalianBy: Rebecca Spitz
11/03/2011 06:54 PM
NY1.com

A building on Manhattan's Lower East Side that has been helping the deaf and hard of hearing community for more than two decades is about to get an extensive renovation. Borough reporter Rebecca Spitz filed the following report.

Alex Badalian calls the Lower East Side home, not just because the Armenian immigrant has lived in the neighborhood since 1996, but because the entire population in his building is hard of hearing or deaf, just like him.

He is one of 138 low-income people who live in Tanya Towers, home to a deaf and hard of hearing community.

"I'm very happy I live here. Good building, good service," says Badalian.

The building is run by a nonprofit Health and Human Services organization known as F.E.G.S. Almost four decades after Tanya Towers was built, F.E.G.S. has decided the building needs some sprucing up.

"We have a commitment to you and to the community to build an extraordinary facility and to make it a place where you want to live and to really make it a community for people who are deaf and hard of hearing and have disabilities," says F.E.G.S. Chief Executive Officer Gail Magaliff.

FEGS_Tanya

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