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JDRC Salutes Conservative Judaism’s Ruling to Include Deaf Jews as Equals

JDRC Salutes Conservative Judaism’s Ruling to Include Deaf Jews as Equals

The Jewish Deaf Resource Center (JDRC) applauds the Conservative Movement’s
Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) for unanimously passing a
historic Teshuvah positively impacting the lives of Jews who are deaf and
hard-of-hearing. With this Teshuvah, the Conservative Jewish Movement now
recognizes that individuals who communicate in sign language are equals and
that the Conservative Jewish community must strive to be accessible and

On May 24th, 2011, the CJLS passed a Teshuvah stating the following in part:

“The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards rules that the deaf who
communicate via sign language and do not speak are no longer to be
considered mentally incapacitated. Jews who are deaf are responsible for
observing mitzvot. Our communities, synagogues, schools, and camps must
strive to be welcoming and accessible, and inclusive. Sign language may be
used in matters of personal status and may be used in rituals. A deaf person
called to the Torah who does not speak may recite the berakhot via sign
language. A deaf person may serve as a shaliah tzibbur in sign language in a
minyan whose medium of communication is sign language.”

Alexis Kashar, president of JDRC said, “This is a historic moment as we deaf
and hard of hearing Jews are now able to stand along with the larger
Conservative Jewish community as equals. We truly appreciate Rabbi Pamela
Barmash’s pioneering efforts as the author of this Teshuvah.”

The Jewish Deaf Resource Center is a national advocacy organization whose
mission is to build bridges between Jews who are deaf and hard-of-hearing
and the individuals and organizations which serve the Jewish community
throughout North America.

Beth M. Mann, Associate Vice President of The Jewish Federations of North
American (JFNA), said, “JDRC has been a magnificent partner in widening the
tent of Jewish communal participation, a shared mission for both the JDRC
and the JFNA. The responsum from CJLS represents a pivotal Jewish moment in
our history as a people and our ever-expanding quest to provide a dynamic
and magnetic community in which our people wish to participate.”

As stated by Rabbi Barmash, “This is yet another example of how Jewish law
and spirituality, guided by the innovative spirit of tradition, embraces the
challenges of the present.”

A copy of the full Teshuvah can be found at

Download PDF file – Links:

Press Release Submitted By:
JDRC Co-Founder
Naomi Brunnlehrman, MA

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