They came from Beer Sheva in the South and Haifa in the North. They came to celebrate their barmitzvahs and their batmitzvahs. They came to commit themselves to their people and to their heritage. What made this celebration unique was that all 46 celebrants were born deaf. Today they still have major hearing and educational issues.
The event at the Young Israel of North Netanya was organized by the International Young Israel Movement in close partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the National Deaf Association. The celebrants and their parents were addressed by Dr. Avital Laufer (deputy-mayor, Netanya), Rabbi Natan Morowitz (rav emeritus, YINN), and Rabbi Chanoch Yeres (director, deaf programming, IYIM).
After receiving gifts (tallitot, Shabbat candles, watches) presented by Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Weinberg (chairman, YINN) the boys were called for aliyot to the Torah and the girls were called up to the bima to recite Shema. This was followed by dancing and a seudatmitzvah held in the shul hall. The large group then continued on to Beit Hatfusot, the museum of the Jewish people, where they learned about Jewish history and Jewish continuity in the Diaspora.
“The amount of emotions and tears in the synagogue underlined the importance of this event. For the parents, it was a day many could not have believed would happen when these special children were born. For the children, it was an opportunity to experience an important Jewish milestone just like their hearing peers and siblings. We wish them all a big mazaltov,” stated Daniel Meyer, executive-director of IYIM.