Amy Cohen Efron’s Hanukkah Vlog

Hanukkah Greetings, Everyone!

The Jewish Deaf Congress received permission from Amy Cohen Efron to share with you her heart-touching experiences growing up as a Jewish Deaf child in New York City.

Turn on the captions in settings if desired.

Were your experiences growing up like or different from Amy’s?

Interpreters are usually not hired for temple services.   Lets work together to change this! 

May 2020 be a better year for everyone.

Best wishes

Roz Rosen

JDC Co-Chair

Chanukah Story Ellen Roth

Hanukkah greetings everyone from Jewish Deaf Congress.

What is Hanukkah? (It is also spelled as Chanukah.  And a number of other ways.)

Why is it such an amazing holiday? Why is it known as the Festival of Lights?

Rabbi Ellen Roth explains the story and the miracle.

Watch her narrate the story here…
Video Link:

The vlog transcript follows below. 

Enjoy.  May the Light be with you.

Happy Hanukkah.


JDC Co-Chair


The Great Chanukah Story

by Rabbi Ellen Roth    December 2019

Happy Chanukah.

Chanukah is a simple story and is known as the Festival of Lights.  We gather together as friends, family and loved ones for great holiday cheer and share presents and enjoy potato laktes. And, lighting the menorah.

But behind all this is a great story. This festival celebrates a great victory of the Maccabees over the larger Syrian army during the 2nd century, B.C.   Also, a miracle happened during this time, where just a day’s supply of oil allowed the menorah in the rededicated Temple in Jerusalem to remain lit for eight days.

Maccabees, after Antiochus issued his decrees forbidding Jewish religious practice, a rural Jewish priest from Modin, Mattathias the Hasmonean, sparked the revolt against the Seleucid Empire by refusing to worship the Greek gods. 

War began and the Jews won. This was an important event; Jews rose up against the Greek-Syrian rulers in the Maccabean Revolt and drove them out of Jerusalem. Jews decided to celebrate with a re-dedication of the 2nd temple in Jerusalem. As Jews celebrated their victory over a tyrant king and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, a small quantity of oil remained to light the Temple’s menorah which would last for only a day.   But instead, the menorah oil miraculously lasted eight days. Why 8?  Because a person had to walk to the nearest town for 4 days, and 4 days back. A total of 8. 8 Days of Miracle. 

  • This miracle shows that we are not alone. God is with us always
  • This message is worth celebrating
  • The darkness did not go away and the light is always with us
  • Now we don’t see miracles or prophets that talked with God or Moses with his magic staff, and yet
  • The story is alive as a reminder, and God is near even though God is silent
  • We light candles as much as we light ourselves within, with our loved ones, family and friends
  • It is symbolic as a way for us to connect with miracles and remember we are not alone.

Happy Chanukah. 


JDC Hanukkah Message

Hanukkah Greetings to you all from the Jewish Deaf Congress!

Hanukkah begins the eve of Dec 22 this year.

What may Hanukkah mean for Jewish people who are Deaf & Hard of Hearing? Hanukkah is a Festival of the Light, celebrating the Jewish belief in human rights and persistence to overcome barriers. Deaf people are biologically People of the Light, People of the Eye. We are continuously advocating for full and quality access to life. There’s much we do have in common. Here’s an informative Hanukkah link for you. Enjoy!

Please consider JDC when making your Hanukkah   end-of-the-year donations. JDC is working to develop Deaf-centric Jewish resources and networks for Deaf people of all ages, families and allies.  Thank you.

Hanukkah Infographic from Aish



Roz & Lance

JDC Co-Chairs

Rosh Hashanah Vlog from Susan Cohen


Shalom! My name is Susan Cohen. I am the President of Washington Society of Jewish Deaf (WSJD).

What is coming up? WSJD’s ASL High Holy Days! What’s special about it? How is it different from traditional services?

A few things are different.

The Deaf Community!

There are no prayer books

Prayers recited by lay leaders are conveyed in ASL

We will blow the shofar. If you can’t hear the shofar, we have an alternative. We will have a drummer beat the drum at the same time as when shofar blowers blast the shofar.

We will feel the vibrations from the drums which will help simulate the experience. It will arouse us to a time to pay attention and focus on repentance.

When and where will the services be?

We will have services at two different locations of the Washington Hebrew Congregation – one in Potomac, Maryland and the other in Washington, DC.

Rosh Hashanah Service and Dinner will be at Julia Bindeman Suburban Center of the Washington Hebrew Congregation in Potomac, Maryland on Monday, September 30, at 6:00 p.m.

Yom Kippur Closing Service and Break Fast will be at Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington , DC on Wednesday, October 9, at 5:30 p.m.

Please join our community and register today.

L’shana tova!

And, do you want to be on our email list? Contact us!

High Holidays Vlog from Ellen Roth


Ellen Roth Transcript

HIGH HOLY HOLIDAYS, September 2019


Beginning of the year according to Jewish Calendar: based on Luna.

It is now 5779 representing the number of years since God’s creation of the heavens and the earth. Theologically the most important time of repentance and renewal.

Rosh Hashanah tends to be a day of celebration, Like New Year’s celebration.

Yom Kippur is a far more somber holiday. Jubilee.

This period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as the “Ten Days of Repentance” (“Aseret Yemei Teshuvah”). According to traditional Jewish teaching, God opens the Book of Life each year on Rosh Hashanah to inscribe a person’s fate for the coming year, but does not seal that fate until Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement.”

The Days of Repentance thus offer us the opportunity to atone for past misdeeds, seek forgiveness, and mend his or her behavior through the practice of Teshuvah, / “Return.” Time and opportunity to reflect on our sins and transgressions over the past 12 months. Time Time Time to contemplate, review, introspect on everything and unpack and start clearing. Internal cleansing. Freeing up.

On that day of Yom Kippur, we enter a solemn 25-hours of prayer and
fasting undertaken as a gesture of penance. [self-reconciliation].

Again, I stress:

Truly important time of the year. It is a day of atonement. “At one with
Myself” [At one with me]. This day is when where you ask God for
forgiveness so their name can be enshrined in the book of life.

Why on that day?

Yom Kippur Morning 5779: Where Heaven Meets Earth.

Yom Kippur is the day that God decides each person’s fate, so Jews are
encouraged to make amends and ask forgiveness for sins committed during the past year. Publicly or Privately.

Clothing: wearing white on Yom Kippur: This is the clearest and most visible nod toward the idea of purity. You’re connecting with yourself and present yourself truly “angelic,” Here is Rabbi Hain says — simple (and transcendent) as that.

Torah: Leviticus 16:29 mandates establishment of this holy day on the 10th
day of the 7th month as the day of atonement for sins. It calls it the Sabbath
of Sabbaths and a day upon which one must afflict one’s soul. Leviticus 23:27 decrees {official order / authority} that Yom Kippur is truly a strict day of rest.

Now here is the story:

How is this world began?” and. “How old is the world”

We say it is now 5779. Now from a scientific point of view, Earth is 4.543
billion years old.
“How was the world created” According to Torah, “God spoke and the world came into being.” Now, from a scientific point of view, we have this “Big Bang Theory”.

Important story here.

According to our tradition, the bedrock upon which the Temple in Jerusalem was built is called the Even Shtiyah, a.k.a. Foundation Stone of the world. It is the center of the earth –it is the very foundation upon which God then constructed our world. It is where the world began. Midrash explains,

“world began from its central point and then developed in all direction.”

That rock is 1. “The Rock” of the 2. “Dome of the Rock”, 3. Golden Dome that
dominates the Old City of Jerusalem.

That Rock is special. and known as the “place where heaven meets earth”. That Rock marked the portal to heaven – and that place where God chose to build the Temple.

God put us on earth to keep the heavens aloft – to help our fellow human beings and bring holiness to our world!” Each time we act with kindness, with compassion, with generosity with our fellows we bring holiness to our world. That is the place where heaven meets earth!


Return to Soul.

May we all embrace the path of Teshuvah in the coming weeks. May we gain confidence in our power to return to God with our words & thoughts, with our hearts and with our actions. God is very near to us, and God is waiting with unending patience and forgiveness.

This perspective and the Torah encourages us that Teshuvah is very near
to us, in our mouths, in our hearts, and in our actions. Maimonides

“What constitutes teshuvah? That a sinner should abandon his sins and remove them from his thoughts, resolving in his heart never to commit them again…He must verbally confess and state these matters which he resolved in his heart” (Hilchot Teshuvah 2:2).

So this is the time of the year we reconnect with ourselves, clear our transgressions and negative thoughts or make wrong right and start again in the new year with a better you.

La Shanah Tov
Ellen Roth


Survey Results

February 25, 2019



At the last JDC conference, in the summer of 2017, an ad hoc committee was formed to plan JDC’s future success.

To date, we conducted two surveys that provided us with valuable information. The survey summaries can be viewed online:

Survey Summary Part 1

Survey Summary Part 2

JDC is using this information to guide us as we develop a strategic plan for JDC’s future.

In the past, JDC hosted biennial conferences that were co-hosted with a sponsoring local organization that handled logistics at the conference site. Due to declining attendance, JDC does not consider a conference to be the best or only way to reach the largest number of people. In addition, there is no local Deaf Jewish organization willing to take on a big project like a biennial conference at this time.

The feedback we received from the surveys told us that the members are interested in connecting online and participating in Jewish Deaf life. Education, membership, discussion groups, live streaming, voting, etc., are all deliverables that can be provided online.

JDC is therefore focusing our attention on providing these resources. We are updating and upgrading the JDC website. We will be releasing pilot deliverables later this year to obtain feedback from you so we can continue to improve on what we create as we steer JDC in this new direction. We will announce to the membership when they are available. In the meantime, please do keep in touch with us via the current JDC website or on FB or direct email to Also let us know if you are interested in helping JDC with information or fundraising at this time.

Thank you for staying with us!

The JDC ad hoc Committee on JDC’s Success

Roz Rosen and Lance Fischer, Co-chairs

Iris Mars, Outreach.

Survey May 2018

May, 2018

Shalom, Everyone! 

It’s here! Several weeks ago, we promised to send out a survey. It’s ready for you, and you can find it at this link:

Why are we doing this survey? We have been working hard the past several months, and realized that we need more information from the community in order to move forward with JDC.

Please – please! — take the time to respond, and feel free to share the survey with friends, family, and other members of your group that we might not have reached. We will be collecting responses through May 20, 2018.

We’re looking forward to your input!

Thank you,

The JDC Ad Hoc Transition Committee and 

Lance Fischer and Roz Rosen, co-chairs 

More information on the JDC Ad Hoc Transition Committee and its workings is posted on our Facebook page. Please visit (and like) the Jewish Deaf Congress page at

Ad-Hoc Transition Bulletin

April 17, 2018

Shalom, Everyone! 

During the Jewish Deaf Congress Conference (JDC) last summer, a JDC ad hoc Transition Committee was established to review the JDC mission, structure, and operations. 

The members of the JDC committee are: Marla Berkowitz, Steve Brenner, Jeffrey Buxbaum, Jeff Cohen, Jeffrey Dunefsky, Lance Fischer, Vicki Lowen, Iris Mars, Tracey Rattner, Elliott Richman, Roz Rosen, Ellen Roth, Lloyd Shikin, and Scott Vinegar.  Lance Fischer and Roz Rosen are co-chairs.

Each ad hoc committee member is involved on various subcommittees, focusing on vital areas such as membership, mission and goals, public relations, finances, and strategic planning. We have met virtually and shared our input on these issues. However, we realize that we need more information from the community before we finalize anything.

JDC exists for you, the individual members and local Jewish Deaf organizations in North America. We need to know what you need from JDC and what you think JDC can do for you, and for the Jewish Deaf community. We have our own ideas, but we are a small group, and don’t want to be limited by this.

We will be sending a survey this Spring to local Jewish Deaf organizations and to individuals, seeking your input on your background and needs. When you receive the survey, please – please! — take the time to respond, and feel free to share the survey with friends, family, and other members of your group that we might not have reached. Tell us about the positive things JDC has done and can do. Tell us what you think JDC could be doing and how it can be changed for the better. Tell us about your vision for what JDC can become, how it can be part of your lives.

You are important to us and to the future of JDC.

Thank you,

The JDC Ad Hoc Transition Committee and 

Lance Fischer and Roz Rosen, co-chairs 

More information on the JDC Ad Hoc Transition Committee and its workings is posted on our Facebook page. Please visit (and like) the Jewish Deaf Congress page at