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Jewish Deaf Approve Plan to Seek Wider Knowledge of Sign Language by Rabbis

August 21, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A plan to widen knowledge among rabbis on the need to develop ability to communicate in sign language with deaf Jews was approved by 1,200 delegates and guests to the seventh biennial convention of the National Congress for the Jewish Deaf here. The Congress closed its six-day conclave by re-electing Alexander Fleischman of Greenbelt, Md. president. Some 500 delegates attended, as guests of the Los Angeles Hebrew Association of the Deaf, from all parts of the United States to discuss problems of aid to American Jewry’s deaf, estimated by officials as more than 8,000, among some 250,000 deaf mutes of all faiths.

The Congress was founded in July, 1956, in New York to aid the growth and preservation of Judaism among the Jewish deaf, to promote Jewish cultural activities, to foster Jewishness among young Jewish deaf and to develop closer understanding between Jews and non-Jews who are in this category of handicap. The president said that the organization did not receive financial support “from any national or local philanthropic organizations. Our support comes from membership dues and financial contributions from our affiliates throughout the country.”

He said that the affiliates are the Boston Hebrew Association for the Deaf, Brooklyn Hebrew Society of the Deaf, Chicago Hebrew Association of the Deaf, Cleveland Hebrew Association of the Deaf, Jewish Deaf Society of Baltimore, Los Angeles Hebrew Association of the Deaf, New York Hebrew Association of the Deaf, Philadelphia Hebrew Association of the Deaf, Temple Beth Or of New York City and the Hillel Group at Gallant College. Saturday morning service of the Congress was held at Temple Beth Solomon in Arletta, the first synagogue for the Jewish deaf in the United States. Mr. Fleischman said there is now Temple Beth Or for the deaf in New York City and smaller congregations in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Cleveland.

The convention was told that in recent years more and more rabbis and laymen have been working with Jewish deaf but that the greatest problem remained a lack of education among rabbis on the barriers to communication between normal persons and the deaf.

The convention heard a report on the organization’s endowment fund, provided by contributions from individuals and affiliates which, the president said, would be used to supplement salaries of future rabbis for the deaf as well as in aiding student rabbis serving the Jewish deaf and for instructing student rabbis in the sign language. The delegates also heard plans for development of a Junior Congress of Jewish Deaf.

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