OU Presents PowerPoint Program to Make Megillat Eichah Reading Easier for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

19 Jun 2007


Following its widespread success in presenting a PowerPoint presentation for reading the Megillah (Book of Esther) on Purim for the past four years, Our Way, a division of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD) serving the deaf and hard of hearing, will for the first time make available a PowerPoint presentation of Megillat Eichah (Lamentations) on Tisha B’Av.

The PowerPoint Megillah works by projecting the text, which appears both in Hebrew and English, on a screen or a monitor. This makes it easier for the deaf and hard of hearing to follow along on the screen while the reader chants the Megillah. The system was developed by Frank Duchoeny of Our Way/Montreal.

The program is provided in CD-ROM format and is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. A $50 contribution is requested, which will be used by Our Way to further develop resources for the deaf and hard of hearing.

According to Batya Jacob, Program Director of Our Way, “This year 75 synagogues and schools participated in the unique Purim Megillah reading and we anticipate similar results in the reading of the Megillat Eichah.” In addition to the OU synagogue network, the PowerPoint presentation is also being made available to schools and camps.

“The mitzvah of Megillat Eichah and observing Tisha B’Av applies to every Jew. Yet, for the deaf and hard of hearing, this mitzvah can be quite elusive. Knowing that Tisha B’Av is a central part of the Jewish calendar, we would like to be inclusive of all members in the Jewish community regardless of any challenges they might have,” declared Jonathan Halpert, Chairman of the OU’s Yachad/NJCD Commission.

“Our Way initially instituted the PowerPoint program four years ago to enable deaf and hard of hearing individuals, among others, to follow the Megillah and to participate in Purim celebrations,” he said.

“This time around we would like everyone to participate in the experience of observing Tisha B’Av and Megillah reading. We hope that this presentation will enable deaf and hard of hearing as well as the elderly, learning disabled and visually impaired to feel more of a part in the commemoration of Tisha B’Av in their community,” he said.
The fast of Tisha B’Av will be observed on Monday night, July 23 and Tuesday, July 24; Eichah is read only at the Monday evening services. It is the saddest day of the year for the Jewish people because of the devastating series of tragedies which befell them on that date throughout Jewish history. These include the destruction of the First and Second Temples; the sin of the spies in the desert; the final date of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492; and the beginning of World War I, which began the downward slide to the Holocaust.

Eichah was written by the prophet Jeremiah, who spent years warning the Jewish people to repent, but the nation continuously ignored him, and the Temple was destroyed. In Eichah the prophet weeps for the destruction of the Temple and the sad turnabout of Jewish history.

For more information visit www.njcd.org/ourway, or to place an order, contact Mrs. Jacob at 212-613-8127 or at jacobb@ou.org.