Deaf Jew is proud to help others


To the Editor:

I am responding to your article on deaf Jews and the Jewish community.

I have worked 14 years for The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, and prior to that I worked eight years at the Valley Beth Shalom Day School. I am very active in the Jewish community and I am deaf. I wasn’t always deaf; I contracted a virus that took my hearing, and what I have left is only confused by acute, ongoing tinnitus.

Each day I come to work with the goal to fulfill a committment that I made many years ago to a little 4-year-old boy who was looking for a home. Vista Del Mar Child Services was looking to place every Jewish child in the Foster Care system with a Jewish family. We adopted this little boy, who is now a man, with a family of his own and since the day that he came into our lives, I made a promise to him that I would "pay it forward" one day and, here I am.

I come to work in the Campaign Department with my hearing dog Brenda — the first working dog to work for the Jewish federation in 100 years. We attend many events and see firsthand the difference that each one of us, hearing and non-hearing, can make within the community — locally and around the world.

I walk into my office with pride and my held high because I am a deaf Jew helping others, whether they be a Jew or gentile, to get through each day with dignity. In these very troubling times, from Haiti to Japan to Israel, we must help everyone, including every 4-year-old child who is in need and who is suffering.

Being deaf is not my identity; it’s a side note to who I am. Sometimes it gets in my way, but my hearing dog is always there to redirect me and "alert" me to what I need to watch and see.

Most important, everyone can move forward from the bumps in their road — it’s all in how they perceive that bump.

Roz Silberschein
West Hills, Calif.

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