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Deaf Jewish Holocaust Lecture in Chicago

Deaf Illinois announces that "Exodus: A Deaf Jewish Family Escapes the Holocaust", sponsored by Harper International Studies Committee, will be presented by Lilly Shirey in J-Theatre at Harper College on Friday, April 16th from 7-10pm. Admission is free, and parking is available in Lots 4 or 5.

The program will start at 7pm with a brief presentation by Alexis Storch on the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, followed by Lilly Shirey’s presentation on her first-hand account of her harrowing escape from Austria.

Question and Answer session will follow at 8pm. For information, contact Elke Weinbrenner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

http://www.deafillinois.com/index.php?option=com_events&task=view_detail&agid=192&year=2010&month=4&day=16&Itemid=27

'Our Way' Welcomes Jewish Deaf To New York

The Orthodox Union's "Our Way"-a program for the deaf, the hearing-impaired, and their families-will present a one-of-a-kind Shabbos experience, March 16-17, at the Jewish Center, 131 W. 86th Street in Manhattan.

"The program will provide families with an excellent opportunity to join together with others to live and learn about Judaism, and to experience Shabbos," declared Rabbi Eliezer Lederfeind, director of Our Way.

Shabbos will be hosted by Allon Yomtov, a deaf individual who lives on the Upper West Side and only recently became involved with the Jewish community. He holds a BS in applied mathematics and an MBA in finance from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He serves as the treasurer of the National Jewish Deaf Congress and of the local Deaf and Hard of Hearing Kaleidoscope.

"With a wonderful committee, we are working hard to make this shabbaton a pleasant and a memorable experience for all Jewish deaf," Mr. Yomtov said.

Highlights of the weekend include interpreted Shabbos services and the presence of deaf scholar-in-residence Rabbi David Kastor. Rabbi Kastor holds a BA in computer science from Gallaudet University (for the deaf) and rabbinical ordination from Ner Israel in Baltimore. He started the Ahavas Israel School of the Deaf in Frederick, Md., and worked for Our Way as a regional representative of Maryland for almost 18 years.

Along with special programming, the shabbaton will provide three delicious meals and snacks, an interpreted synagogue service, a beginner's prayer service, and child care.

The cost for this event is $30 per person. If you would like to attend, send a check for $30 to Our Way Shabbaton, c/o Allon Yomtov, 215 W. 95th Street, Apt 11K, New York, NY 10025. For more information, contact him, TDD/Relay, at 212-749-3528, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For information on Our Way national programs, contact Rabbi Lederfeind, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 212-613-8234.

http://www.5tjt.com/local-news/1375-our-way-welcomes-jewish-deaf-to-new-york.html

Challenges Facing Deaf Jewish people

AcceptingChallenge_thumb

The Berman Jewish Policy Archive at New York University (NYU) in New York City lists the following report in its collection: "Accepting the Challenge: How a Jewish Community Hears and Shares the Needs of Jewish Deaf Members" written by Dr. Louise Cohen-Silver and Barbara Gottschalk, which appeared in Vol. 66, No. 4 of 'Journal of Jewish Communal Service' in 1990.

This report was presented at the World Conference of Jewish Communal Service held July 5, 1989 in Jerusalem, Israel.

Gottschalk, mental health counselor and Department Supervisor in Special Services with Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) of metropolitan Washington, DC at that time, emphasizes the need to make the Jewish community accessible and inviting to the Jewish deaf. "Currently, the rate of intermarriage and conversion to christianity among the Jewish deaf community is much higher than in the community as a whole."

Her report outlines examples of efforts made by JSSA and shares some real-life case studies. This 6-page report can be viewed at http://bjpa.org/Publications/downloadPublication.cfm?PublicationID=30

Deaf vs. Jewish: any conflicts - informative 1991 report

JewishDeaf_thumbSherylCooper_thumbAn article, "Jewish and Deaf: One Microculture or Two?" appeared in Vol. 68, No. 1 of 'Journal of Jewish Communial Service' in 1991. Written by Dr. Sheryl B. Cooper, currently coordinator of Deaf Studies/Sign Language in the Department of Audiology, Speech-Language Pathhology , and Deaf Studies at Towson University in Baltimore, MD wrote "Deaf Jews are members of two cultures. The Deaf community, is strong and unified, but for Deaf Jews, there are many barriers to full participation in the Jewish community, including a halachic view that emphasizes disability and the lack of adequate educational and religious services."

Cooper's nine page article gives some real life examples of obstacles and barriers, points out that while Judaism is both a religion and a culture, deafness is also a culture with traditions, ritual, a history and criteria for acceptance into it, yet unlike Jewish culture, deaf culture is not transmitted by the family, but rather through dormitories of residential schools for deaf children. If Jewish culture is generally transmitted within the family structure and Deaf culture within the residential school environment, how is information about Judaism passed on to Jewish Deaf children, Cooper asks.

In absence of Jewish presence at most residential schools, many Jewish children innocently participate with their Christian friends in their Bible classes.

Then being raised in a Jewish home "is not enough when the hearing parents of a Deaf child cannot even communicate effectively with their son or daughter. many parents of Deaf children do not know Sign Language, and their children may not be skilled lip readers. And when the parents are Deaf, they may have little Jewish knowledge to pass on to their children, be they hearing or deaf".

She cites, among barriers to participation in the Jewish community: lack of adequate religious education, and the traditional Jewish view of Deafness which emphasizes disability. "The Talmud states that there are three categories of people who cannot engage in marriage, divorce, the making of contracts, or the buying of movable and immovable property: the heresh (the deaf-mute), the shoteh (the lunatic), and the katan (the minor).

In her report, Cooper also outlines some efforts being made in the Jewish community. As the report was written 19 years ago, it may be outdated but could serve as solid background material for anyone researching Deaf Jewish issues.

The report can be viewed at http://bjpa.org/Publications/downloadPublication.cfm?PublicationID=3217

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