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(RNS) Purim, the noisiest Jewish holiday of the year, has become more accessible to deaf and hearing-impaired worshippers, as a growing number of synagogues now use a PowerPoint program developed for the festival, which falls on March 10 this year.
The “Purim for the Deaf” slideshow, launched in five synagogues in 2003, will be used by nearly 200 Jewish groups across the United States, Canada and Israel this year, said Batya Jacob, program director of Our Way, a division of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities.
This boisterous celebration of the biblical story of Esther, a Jewish queen who saved her people from genocide in ancient Persia, is one of the few services during which traditional synagogues can use a computer, Jacob added.
“Purim is a joyous holiday where Jews come together to listen to the Megillah (reading) and share in the festivities,” Jacob said. “Every Jewish person needs to be included in the Jewish community where they live, whether they are deaf or not.”
In addition to helping hearing-impaired worshippers participate in the noisy festivities, which involve cheering or jeering throughout the reading, she said many congregations now also use the large-print, colorful program to reach out to the elderly, young children, and participants with visual, cognitive and other impairments.
For more information, visit www.ou.org/chagim/purim.
By Nicole Neroulias
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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