ASL Shabbat Dinner (Partnering with New Paltz ASL Club)
Friday evening, December 13, 2013, I attended the American Sign Language (ASL) Shabbat dinner hosted by Rabbi Moshe Plotkin and his family at the Jewish Student Center on 10 South Oakwood here in New Paltz a block away from the college. They were partnering with the SUNY New Paltz ASL Club for this event. I had been asked by the ASL Club to assist with the sign interpreting. Although I was hesitant as I am not a certified interpreter and I do not know Hebrew, I agreed to help with facilitating the communication.
The special guest for the evening was Rabbi Soudakoff. Rabbi Soudakoff is one of four Deaf Rabbis in North America. He lives in Brooklyn and recently graduated from Rabbinical School. He is originally from Los Angeles CA and his parents and siblings are also Deaf. At the Shabbat he gave a presentation during the service about prayer and the need for a community to be together. During the dinner he told a story about a Deaf person from the Torah and shared words of wisdom about the need to know right from wrong. Also he talked about the experience of being Deaf and Jewish as being part of a double minority. He shared about his work with Deaf Jewish people in the United States, Russia and Israel. The use of ASL helped make his presentations visually meaningful.
There were over 40 students in attendance. Many of the students were from our ASL Club and Deaf Studies classes. It was great to be able to participate in this excellent event!
Check out Rabbi Soudakoff’s website: http://jewishdeafmm.org/
–Dr. Elizabeth Hester, Communication Disorders Dept.