Sunday, March 07, 2010

Laughter flows as deaf and deaf-blind celebrate Purim

Laughter flows as deaf and deaf-blind celebrate Purim

Colorful costumes and smiles would be the defining characteristics of last week’s Purim party in Jerusalem, held by Beth David's Center for Deaf-Blind Persons in Israel in cooperation with the Association for the Deaf.

Despite their severe hearing and even vision impairments, deaf and deaf-blind people gathered from around the country to celebrate Purim with a pantomime artist, a ballerina, and a costume competition. Speaking through an Israeli Sign Language interpreter, one participant said, “This is one of the best times of the year because I can spend time with so many people that communicate like me.”

Her costume was hand-made - a patchwork of milk products which she said was the “source of life.” Just before taking home the first prize in the costume competition, she playfully pretended to pour an empty carton of milk on one of her friends dressed as an old man. She later described the atmosphere as one of “laughter and goofing around,” in which everyone loved to “just have fun with friends.”

Another deaf-blind participant laughed so hard he had to sit down while yet another waved his arms in the air with excitement cheering as the pantomime played tricks on willing participants from the audience. The overall festive experience is so rare for people with these disabilities, when opportunities to let loose come to fruition, they really take advantage of them.

Director of the Center for Deaf-Blind Persons, Elias Kabakov said, “We hope to continue initiating similar programs and projects, although we will definitely need additional funding partnerships so the programming will reach deaf-blind people all over the country."

The Center for Deaf-blind persons in Israel, a non-profit organization that works to support and provide services to Israel’s estimated 1200 deaf-blind persons, together with the Association for the Deaf, made this event possible in which deaf-blind persons from all over Israel regardless of race, religion or ethnicity were given the opportunity to celebrate and communicate with one another in the spirit of festivity and fun.

Each year, the party grows in number because the Center constantly looks for more people to help those that are afraid or most likely unaware of the recreational and rehabilitative programs the organization provides.

Kakabov said, “We find them and help them communicate with the world around them, something that was not an option for them before. This year, we had a hundred people but we know there are more out there…and we hope to find them all.”