President’s Message – June 2013

Susan and I left the Jewish Deaf Congress conference last weekend feeling Jewishly re-energized and re-charged.  The conference was a smashing success – thanks to the hard work of its President, Dr. Karen Alkoby, and her Board of Directors.

The conference followed the theme, “Re-energizing the Jewish Deaf Community” to the core. Workshops and panel discussions ranged in topics related to leadership, Jewish identity, the changing landscape of the Jewish deaf community, accessibility, Jewish history, and Jewish comedy.

I also observed the rich diversity of the Jewish deaf community.  I saw the younger generation represented at the conference and many new faces. Twelve dynamic Jewish deaf people from an active Jewish deaf organization in France added to the diversity of the conference.  All throughout the conference, there was a sense of new energy and passion. It was a weekend to remember.

Every two years, the JDC membership elects a new Board to represent its constituents.  I am pleased to report that JDC now has a diverse Board. Mazel tov to the new Board of Directors:

President – Jacob Salem
Vice President – Andrew St. Cyr
Secretary – vacant
Treasurer – Simon Roffe

Board of Directors

Larisa Aranbayevu
Rabbi Rebecca Dubowe
Allan Karp
Rabbi Yehoushua Soudakoff
Denise St. Cyr

Past President Dr. Karen Alkoby shared her feelings about the conference:

“I would like to thank WSJD for hosting the happy hour at Circle Bistro on Friday before Shabbos began.  More than 130 Jewish deaf individuals attended. The conference was a huge transformation from the 2011 conference in Florida since the number of attendees doubled.”

JDC presented awards to three deserving individuals:

  • Jamie Perlman, of California, received the Celia Warsawsky Award, which honors a 17 to 35 year old Jewish Deaf adult who has made outstanding contributions to furthering Jewish and religious opportunities for young adults.
  •  Susan Cohen, WSJD’s own secretary, received the Henry and Anna Plapinger Award, which honors a Jewish Deaf Adult who has contributed outstanding service to the Jewish Deaf Community for over ten years.  Other WSJD members who have received the Plapinger Award are: Erick Fleischer (1984), of blessed memory; Steve Brenner (1996); and Dot Brenner (2003).
  • Nancy Topolosky, a member of WSJD, was recognized for her hard work in coordinating interpreting service needs for all who attended the conference.

Mazel tov to all! May JDC go from strength to strength!

For more information about the Jewish Deaf Congress, visit the JDC website:

Kol Tuv,
Jeffrey M. Cohen