web analytics
September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



“I’m Deaf. I’m Blind. And I’m Jewish!”: Shabbat Shines for a Deafblind Boy

Liad shapes challah with his mother

Liad shapes challah with his mother

With canes in their hands and anticipation on their faces, the participants made their way towards the Maryland retreat main lobby. They traveled from across the country to experience Shabbat with Jews just like themselves – who could neither see the light of the Shabbat candles nor hear the words of Kiddush.

Welcome to the third annual Jewish Deafblind Shabbaton.

From Friday, June 7- Sunday, June 9, seventeen deafblind Jews, ranging from ages 14 to 80, connected with each other and their heritage. The participants got to learn about and experience Judaism, virtually non-existent in their lives, in an environment that was 100 percent accessible to them.

“A deafblind person can be in a room with 500 people and unless someone communicates with him, he doesn’t know what is going on around them; he is totally isolated,” says Rabbi Eliezer Lederfeind, national director of Our Way/NJCD, an agency of the Orthodox Union that provides educational and social inclusion programs for the deaf and hard of hearing. “It was an opportunity for the Jewish deafblind to connect to people who understood them.”

Sigal Kuhl of Charleston, West Virginia, originally from Haifa, talks about the impact the experience had on her son, Liad, 14, the Deafblind Shabbaton’s youngest participant.

* * *

Last year, we had a bar mitzvah celebration for Liad and put it on YouTube. Rabbi Liederfeind saw it and contacted me. He told me about the Our Way program and the upcoming Shabbaton. Liad couldn’t wait to meet other Jewish deafblind people.

The doctors determined that Liad was deaf and blind when he was six-months-old, due to a virus I contracted 32 weeks into my pregnancy. His balance was also affected, so he can’t walk and has to use a wheelchair to get around. Liad loves to interact, but most people can’t communicate with him. It’s very isolating. I thought the Shabbaton would be a great opportunity for his two younger brothers as well. It’s important for them to see that their brother is important and to do everything possible to include him.

Liad signs with his SSP Hannah Patterson

Liad signs with his SSP Hannah Patterson

We felt so welcomed; you could really feel how they cared about our coming. Each deafblind person had an SSP (the Support Services Providers are trained paraprofessionals who, along with interpreting, foster interaction between deafblind individuals and inform them of their surroundings.) They had to describe everything with their hands. It’s very tiring. But, they did it with such passion. There were even deaf and hard of hearing people helping those who were both deaf and blind. Here are people who have disabilities and they are able to provide a priceless service.

He constantly had someone interested in talking with him, joking with him, asking him about his life. I would hear him on the other side of the room laughing. He was super-happy and super-engaged all the time. He was celebrated for who he is.

The theme of the Shabbaton was Israel. Coming from a community where I’m the only Israeli, I really appreciated it. So did my children; it strengthened their identity to meet other people who love Israel. The organizers highlighted the country’s history and culture in so many ways and activities. They created a huge tactile map of Israel that took up several tables; you could feel the borders and the shapes of all the regions. There was a leader at each table. We got a “tour” of five cities that were indicated in large print and Braille, describing the location and personality of each place. Liad was able to feel Haifa, my hometown.

We also learned the details of what it is to live as a Jew: why we wash our hands before bread, and why we say the blessing, what makes something kosher. Friday, the whole family made a challah, shaping it and braiding it. Then we got to bring it to the Shabbat table. Liad loved it. He signed, “Wonderful! My challah!”

Liad (right, in wheelchair) dances with the men following Havdallah

Liad (right, in wheelchair) dances with the men following Havdallah

It was sad to leave and go back to our daily struggles. When you have a child with disabilities, you feel very isolated; you can’t go many places; you cannot play sports like other kids. Instead of feeling always on the outside, Liad was at the heart of the group. He felt important; people wanted to communicate with him and be with him. He was so happy and comfortable. He was with his own element, his people.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to ““I’m Deaf. I’m Blind. And I’m Jewish!”: Shabbat Shines for a Deafblind Boy

  1. Anonymous says:

    He's a great Kid! I'm sure we all miss him too (including myself).

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS Released Map
The Ally No One Wants In War Against ISIS: The Jews
Latest Sections Stories
Calmer Times. Breslov chassidim on erev Rosh Hashanah in 2012 at the grave of Rav Nachman in Uman.

As optimistic as Menachem Rosenberg is – and he said he is going to Uman – he’s sure that this year, most of the travelers will not tour other religious sites or places in Ukraine.

Three sets of three-day Yomim Tovim can seem overwhelming – especially when we are trying to stay healthy.

Plotkin-092614

Is a missed opportunity to do a mitzvah considered a sin?

Teens-Twenties-logo

The sounds and scents of the kitchen are cozy, familiar, but loud in the silence.

Everyone has a weakness. For some people it is the inability to walk past a sales rack without dropping a few hundred dollars. For others, it’s the inability to keep their house organized.

Not enjoying saying no, I often succumbed to requests viewing them as demands I couldn’t refuse.

His entire life was dedicated to Torah and he became a pivotal figure in the transmittal of the Oral Torah to the next generation.

When you don’t have anyone else to turn to… that’s when you’re tied to Hashem the closest.

While we all go to restaurants for a good meal, it is dessert, that final taste that lingers in your mouth, that is the crown jewel of any dining experience and Six Thirteen’s offerings did not disappoint.

Today, fifty years and six million (!) people later, Israel is truly a different world.

There will always be items that don’t freeze well – salads and some rice- or potato-based dishes – so you need to leave time to prepare or cook them closer to Yom Tov and ensure there is enough room in the refrigerator to store them.

In Uzbekistan, in the early twentieth century, it was the women who wore the pants.

This is an important one in raising a mentsch (and maybe even in marrying off a mentsch! listening skills are on the top of the list when I do shidduch coaching).

More Articles from Bayla Sheva Brenner
Liad shapes challah with his mother

With canes in their hands and anticipation on their faces, the participants made their way towards the Maryland retreat main lobby. They traveled from across the country to experience Shabbat with Jews just like themselves – who could neither see the light of the Shabbat candles nor hear the words of Kiddush.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/feautures-on-jewish-world/im-deaf-im-blind-and-im-jewish-shabbat-shines-for-a-deafblind-boy/2013/07/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: