WHAT IS JDRC?
By Susan F. Cohen
President, Jewish Deaf Resource Center
Like many others, as a Jewish Deaf child growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I missed out on a religious school education and synagogue services because of lack of access. My hearing parents did not know where to turn to provide me with the religious school education that my siblings had.
Twenty five years ago, Marla Berkowitz and Naomi Brunnlehrman saw that need and co-founded the Jewish Deaf Resource Center (JDRC) to build bridges between Jews who are Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, DeafBlind, Deaf with disabilities, and the hearing individuals and organizations who serve the wider Jewish community throughout North America. Through partnerships, JDRC’s leadership, composed of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and hearing individuals, advocates to increase communication access to Jewish communal experiences through inclusive policy and practices, communication solutions, training, and resources.
The JDRC just kicked off the celebration of their silver anniversary on Sunday, October 10 with Shirly Pinto Kadosh, the first Deaf person to be sworn in Israeli’s Knesset, as a keynote speaker. At this celebration, JDRC honored three trailblazers including Marla Berkowitz, Naomi Brunnlehrman and Alexis Kashar, who shaped the organization to what it is known today.
JDRC is the administrator of UJA-Federation of New York’s Jewish Community Deaf Interpreting Fund which provides partial reimbursement for interpreting or captioning expenses for non-profits in the UJA-Federation of New York geographic area. This serves as a template for other Jewish Federations to emulate.
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