OU PowerPoint Program to Make Megillah Reading Acessible to Jewish Deaf and Hard of Hearing

06 Feb 2007


With the joyous festival of Purim right around the corner, Our Way, a division of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD) serving the deaf and hard of hearing, is presenting its PowerPoint presentation for reading the Megillah (Book of Esther) once again this year. Last year’s program drew over 75 synagogues from United States and Canada. According to Batya Jacob, Program Director of Our Way, “The goal for this year is to have over 100 synagogues participate in this unique Megillah reading.”

Purim will be observed on Saturday night March 3 and Sunday, March 4.

Our Way instituted the PowerPoint program four years ago to enable deaf and hard of hearing individuals, among others, to follow the Megillah and participate in Purim celebrations. “Purim is among the most joyous occasions in the Jewish calendar and everyone should be able to fully take part. This PowerPoint presentation makes the Megillah reading, which is central to the occasion, accessible to all,” declared Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director of Yachad/NJCD.

The PowerPoint Megillah works by projecting the text, which appears both in Hebrew and English, on a screen or a monitor and includes special graphics, which are related to the evil Haman. It was developed by Frank Duchoeny of Our Way/Montreal and Tehilla Kaiser of NCSY/Toronto.

“The positive feedback from synagogues which have used the program in the past has been unanimous,” declared Mrs. Jacob.

“While the program was initially designed to allow the deaf and hard of hearing to participate in the holiday of Purim, given the program’s numerous benefits, it now enables synagogues across the country to include a wide range of members of their congregations such as the elderly, individuals with learning disabilities, those with attention deficit disorders and small children,” Mrs. Jacob explained.

“Therefore,” she said, “Our Way promotes the PowerPoint presentation as a key education ingredient in teaching Purim in Day and Hebrew schools.”

The program is provided in CD-ROM format and is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. A $100 contribution is requested, which will be used by Our Way to further develop resources for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Communities that have already signed up for this year stretch from Baltimore to Tucson and up into Nova Scotia, Canada. It will also be used at Gallaudet University for the Deaf in Washington.

For a growing list of participating synagogues and for a demo presentation, log-on to www.njcd.org/ourway.
For more information, or to place an order, contact Mrs. Jacob at 212-613-8127 or at jacobb@ou.org.