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Interpreters for Deaf Jews
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Question

I noticed how willing Christians are to learn to interpret for the hearing impaired for free during the services, but we Deaf Jews have to hire intepreters and that costs money. Who can afford to hire interpreters for each service? Why is it this way in the Jewish community? This frustrates me. Neverthless, I stay a Jew but I should not have to suffer because I cannot hear the services."

Answer

I think this is primarily an issue of mentality amongst the Jewish leadership. It's crucial that the priority be serving the Jewish community, with running a business secondary. What's the point of having a synagogue if it turns Jews away from their heritage? I'm afraid if we don't do something to shift the attitude, there won't be enough Jews left in another generation to go to all these synagogues. In other words, we'll have shot ourselves in the foot.

The story of the person who had to deliver a very important message to a man in synagogue on Rosh Hashana. The usher wouldn't let him in because he didn't have a ticket. "Please, I just need a moment to tell him the message!" "No way!" says the usher, "No ticket, no entrance!" "Please," begs the man, "I promise ... I won't pray!"

Having said this, we do also need to realize that every synagogue needs financial support. They have building and maintenance costs, and pay a rabbi who spends endless hours working to serve the community's spiritual needs.

Perhaps you can help solve the problem by starting a public awareness campaign to raise funds for the interpreters. What a great mitzvah that would be!

With blessings from Jerusalem,

Rabbi Shraga Simmons
Aish.com

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