The Orthodox Union is holding 200 “karaoke-style” readings of Megilat Esther
during Purim for the hard of hearing, deaf and elderly in synagogues across the
US, UK, Israel and Australia.
The unique readings will be conducted with
the help of PowerPoint presentations beamed onto giant projector screens,
enabling participants to follow along visually as they see the words being read
highlighted in front of their eyes.
The words are projected in both
Hebrew and English and include special graphics depicting Haman’s malevolent and
Purim is an exuberant and high-spirited holiday in the
Jewish calendar involving fancy-dress, benevolent gift-giving and the consumption
of large quantities of alcoholic beverages.
The megila reading, however,
can be a frustrating experience for the deaf and hard of hearing, the OU says,
since it is hard for them to follow along with the rest of the
Jewish law stipulates that one must listen to and follow
every word of the Purim story told in Megilat Esther to fulfill the religious
obligations of the holiday. However, those who are unable to hear are not
required to observe this obligation.
“This is a brilliant program and
will enable people with hearing disabilities, vision and seniors to be part of
different communities to take an active part in the festivities and mitzvot of
Purim,” said Batya Jacob, director of the project.
“The program was
initially designed to allow the deaf and hard of hearing to participate in the
holiday of Purim, but given the program’s numerous benefits, it now enables
hundreds of synagogues to include a wide range of members of their congregations
such as the elderly, individuals with learning disabilities, those with
attention deficit disorders and small children,” Jacob added.
megila readings will be held for both the evening and morning prayer
The OU requests a $100 contribution from participating
synagogues for the development of additional resources for the deaf and hard of
hearing by the organization’s disabilities branch.