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In One Deaf Child, All Of The Hagaddah's Four Children

DanielGrossmanRabbi Daniel Grossman
03/22/2013 - 08:56
The New York Jewish Week

As families gather around the Seder table, they encounter the four children. Some take the position that the four children really represent different aspects of each individual person. I would like to share a story with you that examines the question:  Can our presence at the Seder bring order to our lives and allow the different aspects of who we are to integrate as one person?

In the spring of 1975, I was serving as a Rabbinic Intern at Rochester Institute of Technology – National Technical Institute for the Deaf.  We created the first Seder in Hebrew, English, and Sign Language. I was assisted by excellent interpreters so that the more than 60 hearing and deaf students could participate together. Among the students, there was a young man whose parents had flown to Rochester from Tennessee to be with their son.

Photo: Rabbi Daniel Grossman


Visiting for a Wedding, Teacher Gives Deaf Bochurim a Paris Tour

BochurimParis12Posted to Photo Galleries on March 20, 2013

A group of Bochurim, including American, English, Belgian and Israeli, all studying in Yeshivas Nefesh Dovid in Toronto, which caters to deaf Yeshiva students and enables them to thrive, visited Paris to take part in the wedding of Isser Lubecki, their Yeshiva-mate and friend.

Local teacher and brother of the Chosson Rabbi Mordechai Lubecki seized the opportunity and gave the group a special tour of Paris, making their visit even more special.

To learn more about Yeshivas Nefesh Dovid visit their website NefeshDovid.com


Teaching Viewers to Hear the TV With Eyes Only

Published: March 8, 2013
The New York Times

This week ABC Family did something that no commercial television channel in the United States had ever done: It broadcast an entire episode of a show, “Switched at Birth,” in American Sign Language, with next to no oral dialogue.

As a result viewers had to do something that, for some of them, was just as unusual: pay undivided attention.

“Every single viewer — deaf or hearing — was forced to put away their phones and iPads and anything else distracting in this A.D.D. world we all live in and focus,” said Lizzy Weiss, the creator of the series. Captioning translated the sign language for viewers. “You had to read,” she said. “You couldn’t do anything else. And that made you get into it more. It drew you in.”

SwitchAtBirthThe almost silent episode (there was still a musical score) mostly held its own in the Monday night ratings, much to the satisfaction of advocates for the deaf and hard-of-hearing population in the country. “Who knew a teen show on ABC Family could be so cutting edge?” said Beth Haller, a journalism professor at Towson University in Maryland, who has studied media portrayals of people with disabilities for two decades. She found “Switched at Birth” so significant that she presented an academic paper about it last fall.


‘Book of Esther’ in Sign Language for the Hearing Impaired

BookEsther1Rachel Avraham
United with Israel

The need for the deaf and the hearing impaired to participate in the mitzvah of listening to the Megillah (Book of Esther) being read is definitely there. 18,000 Israeli citizens are deaf, while an additional 200,000 Israelis are hearing impaired. However, the communication difficulties that accompany one losing their ability to hear often prevents’ deaf people from fully participating in Jewish religious rituals. Thus, for this reason, the Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel jointly sponsored with Tzohar and the Tel Aviv International Synagogue a Megillah reading in sign language.

BookEsther2The Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel was established, to “improve the quality of life of deaf and hard-of-hearing people in education, both as receivers and as providers and to enable deaf and hard-of-hearing Israelis to live independent and productive lives with full access to the types of services and opportunities already available to the hearing population.” Rabbi Ariel Konstantyn, the founder of the Tel Aviv International Synagogue, proclaimed, “We were saved on Purim because the Jews came together as a people and through that merit, G-d acted to deliver us from our enemies. This unity is important and we can’t have an element of society missing out on an important experience of the Purim holiday, so this was the motivation behind the Megillah sign language initiative.” Similarly, Yael Kakon, the director of the Institute for the Advancement of Deaf Persons in Israel, noted how important it is for “the deaf and the hard of hearing to enjoy the special experience of the Megillah reading.”



This Month's Video

Irina, our event coordinator, shares the exciting updates of the #DeafChanukah event in this video!

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