Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Children Celebrate their Bar and Bat Mitzvah
Each year, our Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program assists deaf and hearing impaired children (many from secular or poor families) from all-over the country to prepare for this important life-cycle event. Participants are required to attend a total of 24 hours of classes. These classes address the importance of and giving to the community, and understanding the meaning and importance of prayer. The boys learn the blessings for being called up to the Torah and the girls are taught the blessings for candle lighting and the commandment of taking challah.
At the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony, the boys drape themselves in their talliot, don tefillin and sign the blessings for being called up to the Torah, and the girls say the Shema in sign language.
This year 40 deaf and hearing-impaired children celebrated their right of passage at the Beit Yaakov Synagogue in Ramat Eshkol, Jerusalem followed by a luncheon and day-long program and tour of Jerusalem with their parents. For some it was their first visit to Jerusalem.
The unique ceremony was the culmination of several months of training deaf boys and girls the basics of Judaism and the ethics of Jewish adulthood. "We are deeply proud to be able to share this stellar occasion with these young people and their families", stated Rabbi Chaim Wasserman, President of the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel. "The emotional charge of seeing these challenged youth participate as all others in this important life event is indescribable unless you witness it personally."
Established in 1995, The Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel's Judaic Heritage Program (JHPIDHI) is the only program providing Israel's deaf, hearing impaired and deaf-blind with critically needed religious education and the tools to function as active complete Jews and people in both the religious and secular worlds. A major communication gap often prevents the deaf in Israel from participating in Judaic culture and ritual. "This program helps connect deaf and hearing impaired children with both their own Jewish heritage and the greater community of Israel", explains Rabbi Chonoch Yeres, Program Coordinator of the JHPIDHI. "The obligations for Jewish children to take part in a Bar or Bat Mitzvah has no lines or boundaries".
As a way to mark this as a significant "life passage" event, participants each receive a prayer book (Siddur) and watch. Boys also receive their own kippa and tallit (some their own pair of tefillin); girls receive Shabbat candlesticks.
The program is endorsed and receives partial sponsorship from the Jewish Agency for Israel and works in close ties with the Association for the Deaf in Israel. To make a donation or sponsor a child please contact us at 972-2-625-4983 or email@example.com.
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