Jewish Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Awareness Shabbat

Jewish Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Awareness Shabbat

March 2012

The Jewish Deaf Resource Center (JDRC) is proud to announce that the
Shabbat of May 5th, 2012, is being recognized as Jewish Deaf and
Hard-of-Hearing Awareness Shabbat. The JDRC builds bridges between
Jews who are deaf and hard-of-hearing and the organizations which
serve the Jewish community throughout North America. The goal of this
Shabbat is to raise awareness about including individuals who are deaf
and hard-of-hearing, as well as their families and friends within the
wider Jewish community. JDRC’s President, Alexis Kashar, added, “We
strongly believe the Torah reminds us of the importance of being
sensitive to all individuals. When one family member is denied access
to the wider Jewish community, the whole family is often without
access to Jewish communal life for generations.”

This inaugural national program initiated by JDRC has the support of
the greater Jewish community including the:
· Rabbinical Assembly (RA),
· Union of Reform Judaism (URJ)
· Rabbinical Council of Amercia (RCA)
· Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA)
· Academy of Jewish Religion (AJR)
· UJA-Federation of New York and
· Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA)

This particular Shabbat was chosen because on that day our Torah
reading includes Parshat Kedoshim, which says “Do not insult the
deaf…..” JDRC is encouraging rabbis across denominations to devote
their sermons on May 5th to a discussion about this commandment, to
specifically address what this means to them, and to discuss why they
believe Torah uses this example to teach us how to become holy.
Several of the organizations are reaching out to their rabbinic
leaders so they can write sample sermons in advance and disseminate
them among their colleagues. Rabbi Goldin, the president of the
Rabbinic Council of America (RCA) added, “We must do everything we can
to grant full access to all individuals in our synagogues, schools and
community centers. This entails not only the creation of physical
accommodations within our institutions but programmatic accommodations
as well.”

The timing of this Shabbat is particularly significant to the
Conservative Movement as it marks the one year anniversary of the
unanimous passing by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS)
of their Rabbinic Responsa, “The Status of the Heresh and of Sign
Language.” Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President of the
Rabbinical Assembly (RA) said, “Our Judaism is one of inclusion and I
am proud that the Law Committee has found a way to enable more members
of our community to have access to and to take part in lives of Torah
and Mitzvot.”

Jeff Schoenfeld, Chair of the Caring Commission of UJA-Federation of
New York, said he is proud to support JDRC’s efforts. “The advocacy
work of this organization has not only significantly helped to raise
awareness regarding the needs of the Jewish Deaf community, but the
JDRC has additionally played an integral role in building a more
inclusive and welcoming Jewish community for everyone.”

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Incoming President of the Union of Reform Judaism
(URJ), added, “The circle of God’s love leaves no one out, but too
often our Jewish community has shut its hearts and doors to those with
special needs. May our communities speedily and soon follow God’s lead
as we remove the barriers that still keep too many outside our sacred
embrace. Practicing inclusion is a Mitzvah-a sacred obligation.”

“The Jewish Federations are deeply grateful to the JDRC and key
partners like UJA-Federation of New York for their important
leadership on this critical issue,” said JFNA President and CEO Jerry
Silverman. “We echo the call to rabbis and Jewish leaders to help
remind us of the sacred importance of embracing the deaf and
hard-of-hearing, their families and friends in our community.”

Source: JDRC