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March 17, 2005

OU provides PowerPoint megillah

From: Cleveland Jewish News - Cleveland,OH,USA - Mar 17, 2005

Fulfilling the mitzvah of hearing the Megillat Esther (Book of Esther) reading on the Purim holiday is something most Jews take for granted. For the deaf and the hard of hearing, however, this mitzvah is not so simple.

Our Way, the Orthodox Union (OU)'s National Jewish Council for Disabilities program for the deaf and hard of hearing, has set the goal of bringing its PowerPoint Megillat Esther program to at least 50 synagogues across the United States and Canada. Last year the program reached more than 20 synagogues across the country.

The program has been featured in synagogues in New York City, Los Angeles, Denver, West Hartford, West Orange, Silver Spring, Baltimore and even South Africa, England and Israel. This Purim, Gallaudet University and the Rochester Institute, both colleges for the deaf and hard of hearing, and the American School for the Deaf, a high school, have also signed up for the program.

Visual graphics are projected by computer onto a screen enabling the deaf or hard of hearing to follow along. The text appears on the screen in both Hebrew and English and includes special graphics when the villain Haman's name is read, which is traditionally responded to with booing and the use of loud noise makers.

It's not only the deaf, however, who benefit from this program, according to Our Way director Batya Jacob. The program has had so much success outside of the deaf community that Jewish day schools even use it as a teaching aid prior to Purim. "It is being used for people with all sorts of needs, including small children or people with attention disorders," she says.

Our Way provides the program in a CD-ROM to synagogues upon request for a contribution of $100, which will be used to further develop inclusive resources for the deaf and hard of hearing. For more information, or to place an order, please contact Batya Jacob at 212-613-8127 or

Copyright 2005 Cleveland Jewish News