Thursday, August 18, 2005

Brooklynites Chosen as Winners of Our Way Essay Contest for the Deaf

Nice to see young Jewish people being involved. The Jewish Deaf community and involvement has been dwindling for a while now, according to few sources. Correct me if I'm wrong about that. I hope they keep the community alive and have deaf youth more involved.

-S



From the newsroom of the Orthodox Union, New York City, New York, Wednesday, August 17, 2005 .....

Brooklynites Chosen as Winners of Our Way Essay Contest for the Deaf

The profound impact that a mentor can have on hard of hearing and deaf children has been eloquently described by the winners of the Jewish Deaf Youth Essay Contest: A Mentor or Teacher Who Changed My Life, sponsored by Our Way, a division of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD).

The winners are:

Shaindy Jacobowitz, 15, of Brooklyn, a student at B’nos Yisroel Viznits, for the senior division, and

Yoni Miller, 11, also from Brooklyn, a student at the Jewish Foundation School in Staten Island, for the junior division.

First place winners received a $200 United States Savings Bond. Second place winners received their choice of Artscroll books worth $50.

The contest was sponsored by Dr. Eitan and Deborah Fiorino in memory of Adele Markwitz, a speech pathologist and audiologist who taught the Fiorino’s hearing-impaired daughter. Adele Markwitz worked with many Jewish deaf children, and with her effort, encouragement, and knowledge of Yiddish, they were successfully mainstreamed at their local yeshiva/Hebrew day school.

Our Way for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing was established in 1969 and is dedicated to providing resources and programming for the Jewish population with hearing issues. Our Way sponsors Shabbat retreats, sign language publications, services and resources for the deaf and hard of hearing communities.

The Fiorinos chose the topic for reasons beyond their own personal connection to Adele Markwitz. “For deaf/hard of hearing children, the task of learning to function in a world that isn’t designed for their needs can be challenging, and for parents it can be at times completely overwhelming,” said the Fiorinos. For this reason, they believe that “a mentor is not merely a service provider, but is a devoted caregiver, and the relationship between the mentor and child can be a transforming experience.”

Shaindy Jacobowitz’s mentor was Adele Markwitz. Thanks to Ms. Markwitz, Shaindy describes herself as “one of those who wears my hearing aids proudly and can participate well in school.” According to Shaindy, “a therapist can teach you several vital tips,” but “how those skills are taught is what will ultimately make the difference.”

Yoni Miller wrote about his shadow (an adult who assists a deaf or heard of hearing child in the classroom) who helped him after he experienced problems with his chochlear implant when he was in first grade. “Every day I am becoming more and more independent,” he wrote. “And I know that one day in the future Morah Devorah will have to leave me to work with a new first grade child with a cochlear implant. But for now, this essay is my way of honoring Morah Devorah.”

Along with two other judges, the Fiorinos chose the winners. “These essays are a truly fitting tribute to Adele – her many ‘children’ can well attest both to their own growth under her mentoring, and to her tireless devotion to her clients,” the Fiorinos said.

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The Orthodox Union, now in its second century of service to the Jewish community of North America and beyond, is a world leader in community and synagogue services, adult education, youth work through NCSY, political action through the IPA, and advocacy for persons with disabilities through Yachad and Our Way. Its kosher supervision label, the , is the world’s most recognized kosher symbol and can be found on over 400,000 products manufactured in 83 countries around the globe.

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