TA: First sign language megila reading takes place

Over 600 people turn up to the Tel Aviv International Synagogue for the unique reading of the Book of Esther.

Sign reading Megilat Esther 370 (photo credit: Tomer Peled)
Sign reading Megilat Esther 370
(photo credit: Tomer Peled)
The Institute for the Advancement of the Deaf and the national-religious rabbinic association Tzohar joined together on Purim to hold for the first time a sign-language megila reading for the deaf and hard of hearing.
More than 600 people turned up to the Tel Aviv International Synagogue on Saturday night for the unique reading of the Book of Esther, one of the central customs of Purim.
As the megila was read aloud, a designated translator provided a simultaneous translation into sign language from atop a raised platform at the front of the synagogue.
The event was broadcast live over the Internet by Ynet.
Rabbi Ariel Konstantyn, the founder of the Tel Aviv International Synagogue and head of the community, said that it was important on Purim to include all members of society in the megila reading.
“We were saved on Purim because the Jews came together as a people and through that merit, God acted to deliver us from our enemies,” Konstantyn said.
“This unity is important and we can’t have an element of society missing out on an important experience of the Purim holiday, so this was the motivation behind the megila sign language initiative.”
Yael Kakon, director of the institute, also noted the importance of helping “the deaf and hard of hearing to enjoy the special experience of the Purim megila reading.”
The Purim celebrations at the Tel Aviv International Synagogue also included a Jewish rock concert, an open bar and a communal version of the traditional Purim meal.
In addition to the sign-language reading, Tzohar helped stage 192 megila readings around the country in 100 cities, towns, villages and kibbutzim.
“Sometimes salvation comes from the most unexpected place – us,” said Rabbi Boaz Ganut, head of Tzohar’s community division. “Before Queen Esther went out to carry out her duty and help save the Jewish people from the decrees of Haman, she requested from Mordechai to gather the Jewish people together, since she understood that only if the connection between us all is alive and well can delivery come,” the rabbi continued, in reference to the importance of bringing Jewish people together for communal readings on Purim.