More than 40 people braved the cold last Saturday night to honor Rabbi Yehudah and Yael Zelinger at Our Way’s first-ever statewide melave malkah at the Park Heights Jewish Community Center.
The Feb. 8 event, hosted by the Orthodox Union’s division for the Jewish deaf and hard of hearing, featured food, drinks and company for those who attended.
“‘Welcome to the center of the universe!’ That’s how they started the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia,” said Yael Zelinger, “but is the truth is, for the Jewish deaf community, any Our Way event is the center of the universe.”
Since 1999, Zelinger has been working at the Center for Jewish Education, where part of her job involves advocating for the needs of the Jewish deaf and blind communities.
So often, the Jewish community is somewhat disconnected from the deaf population, said Rabbi Eliezer Lederfeind, director of Our Way, but “Baltimore is a great exception.”
The local Our Way chapter hosts about 10 events for the Jewish deaf community each year, estimated Rabbi David Kastor, the organization’s regional representative in Maryland, including a deaf-blind Shabbaton hosted semiannually in Baltimore.
“We [in Baltimore] have a very active deaf community, a very active Jewish community and a very active Jewish deaf community,” said Sheryl Cooper, a deaf studies professor at Towson University who attended the melave malkah.