Approximately 90 people — support service providers, staff and 18 members of the Jewish deafblind community from across North America and Israel — came together on June 16-18 for the fifth annual “Deafblind Shabbaton” at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Reisterstown.
According to its mission statement, the event’s objective was to “provide a fully accessible Shabbat experience for Jews of all backgrounds living with dual hearing and vision loss. The experience is meant to educate and empower the participants to socialize and connect meaningfully with Judaism and with fellow Jewish participants and staff.”
Attendees participated in interactive workshops and hands-on activities, as well as enjoyed socializing and eating kosher meals. In addition, attendees participated in all aspects of Shabbat observance and rituals, with blessings recited in Hebrew, ASL and tactile American Sign Language through trained interpreters.
The gathering was presented and hosted by the the Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.
“It was really amazing,” said Dr. Sheryl B. Cooper, a member of the shabbaton’s planning committee and coordinator of the Deaf Studies program at Towson University. “Everybody had a great time. It was a wonderful weekend.”
The deafblind participants of the gathering were Ryan Bondroff, Dr. Jeff Bohrman, Mark Israel, Mordy Weis, Shlomo Malka, Daniel Malka, Kit Englard, Karen Winter, Martin Greenberg, Baila Weis, Sarah Nelinson and Jax, Robert Blumenau, Allen Sugar, Yaara Brahm, Sara Leah Kovacs, Sharon Seigal, Scott Siegal and Steven Frank.
“I enjoyed the Deafblind Shabbaton conference,” said Frank, who lives in Maryland. “It was fun-filled with many activities.” Nelinson, also a Marylander, agreed.
“What a weekend!” she said. “I am proud to be Jewish!! It was amazing meeting old and new faces!”
Photos by Dr. Sheryl B. Cooper
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