Equal Rights Are Achieved by the Jewish Blind
By GERALD M. KASS
tries the world over, includ-
Associate Director, Jewish ing Israel. These services in-
Braille Institute of America clude a monthly magazine in
(A Seven Arts Feature)
Braille, Jewish Braille Re-
At a convention of 1,500 view, edited by Dr. Freid, a
blind in New York City, Dr. Braille library of 50,000 vol-
Jacob Freid, executive direc- umes circulated free - of -
tor of the Jewish Braille In- charge; and an assortment of
stitute of America said: "The material given to the blind,
blind will no longer remain such as Bibles, prayerbooks,
as wards of society but will Passover Hagadot and a
determine their own destiny comprehensive selection of
exercising their abilities and educational materials. The
talents as full-fledged mem- Institute sponsors an inter-
bers of their communities." national literary competition
So expressing a growing contest, helping to promote
belief that the blind by right the talents of blind writers.
sh -11 assume positions in ac- Past judges of this competi-
s nce with their capabil- tion included Pearl Buck,
ities, Dr. Freid summarized Mark Van Doren and Elea-
the mission of the Jewish nor Roosevelt.
For the JBI, equality for
Braille Institute of America,
whose efforts he has directed the blind does not mean
for nearly a quarter of a cen- equality to receive services.
Equality is not achieved
The origin of the Jewish when the Jewish blind only
Braille Institute can be traced reap the advantages of a
to 1931 when Leopold Dubov, 4,000 year tradition. No man
a blind insurance agent and is truly free until he is part
musician, assisted by Rabbi of the creativity and labor
Michael Aaronsohn, who had bringing about that which he
been blinded in World War I, treasures. The Jewish blind
appealed to the organized have now become leaders
Jewish community to support within the Jewish communi-
an institute that would en- ty, making postive contri-
able blind Jews to partici- butions to a vibrant heritage
pate on an equal basis with of which they are now crea-
sighted Jews in their histori- tors as well as inheritors.
Steve Cassell was brought
cal, religious and cultural
birthright. Prior to that time to the JBI as an 8-year-old
such equality was unconsci- blind child who would be the
ously denied. There were no first male in his family's his-
masterworks of Jewish lit- tory not to participate in the
erture in Braille, the blind milestone of Bar Mitzva. His
Jew had no prayerbook with parents' sadness was lifted
which to attend synagogtie to hope and then joy when
and no blind Jewish young- they were told: "Your son
ster had ever been able to will learn Hebrew Braille and
master the traditional He- become a Bar Mitzva just as
brew language, since Hebrew his father and grandfather
Braille was non-existent.
To date, over 200 blind
The Jewish Braille Insti-
tute, with headquarters in boys and girls have become
New York, makes its serv- Bar or Bat Mitzva and over
ices available throughout the 1,200 have attended their
United States and 43 coun- synagogue religious schools.
A dream began on the day
of Steven's Bar Mitzva—a
dream of being a cantor. The
dream has been achieved.
Steven is now 30 years old
A Roman matron asked and his voice inspires those
Rabbi Jose, son of Chalafta: who he leads in prayer—he
"In how many days did the has become the first cantor
Holy One, blessed be He, in Jewish history who was
blind from birth.
create the world?"
Other blind students, male
"In six days," he replied.
"And what has He been and female, now attend can-
torial institutes and Jewish
doing ever since?"
teachers' colleges. It is an-
The woman asked, "Is that ticipated that the first rab-
all He does? I could do as binical student, blind from
much myself. I have male birth, will soon begin his
and female slaves, and in seminary training. These
one little hour I can marry young people shall emerge
as leaders of the Jewish com-
off all of them."
munity as did Neil Freeling,
"Though it may appear the first blind man to serve
easy in your eyes," said the as president of a congrega-
Rabbi, "yet every marriage tion.
means as much to the Holy
Lea Levavi has been des-
One, blessed be He, as the cribed as the most prolific
dividing of the Red Sea."
newspaper writer in Israel.
What did the woman do Born in Brooklyn, she grew
when Rabbi Jose was gone? up with the JBI's philosophy
She took a thousand male strong in her mind and the
slaves and a thousand female JBI's services constantly
slaves, placed them in two available to her. In a per-
ranks, and said: "Let this sonal search to find profes-
one take that one, let this sional and spiritual fulfill-
one take that one"—and in a ment, she migrated to Is-
single night she married all rael two years ago. She now
of them off.
writes a weekly column for
The next morning the wom- the Jerusalem Post and is a
en came to the house of their respected journalist with ex-
mistress. One had a cracked pertise on Arab-Israel af-
head, another a bruised eye, fairs. She covers as many as
a third a broken limb.
four interviews a day and
"What ails you all?" the through her writing educats
mistress asked. And they re- her readers on a variety of
plied, each one, "I will not topics crucial to life in Is-
live with this one . . . I will rael.
not live with that one. . . ."
Another JBI alumna in Is-
Then the woman sent for rael is Ellen Rubin, a re-
Jose and said to him: "There
is no God like your God, and
He who buys and sells in
your Torah is beautiful and truth and fidelity are regard-
praiseworthy, for you were ed as if he had fulfilled the
in the right."
habilitation counselor for the
blind who has published in
the field. She is currently
working at the George Sim-
mons Center in Beersheba
teaching skills to the blind of
The new generation of Jew-
ish blind, imbued with the
JBI philosophy, is emerging.
They create and inspire with-
in the Jewish community and
the larger community as
well. They are college edu-
cated, professionally e m -
ployed, heads of households
and civic leaders. Included
in their ranks are teachers,
doctors, lawyers, manage-
ment consultants, business-
men — they enrich all fields
in which talented people are
"The JBI is not merely an
agency for the blind" ex-
plained Dr. Freid. "We are of
the blind. Leading board
members of our institute are
blind. Our goals are deter-
mined by the needs that
blind people tell us they have
not by what we assume they
should be. The ethics of the
fathers command us saying
`separate thyself not from the
community.' The Jewish blind
are fulfilling this command-
ment in the joy of creative-
participating. They are
achieving the equality that
blind people in general have
been seeking for thousands of
Blessed Scholar Eats
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Friday, Sept. 28, 1973-63
the Fruits of His Hands
I call heaven and earth to
to witness that every scholar
who eats of his own, and who
New Year Greetings
enjoys the fruits of his own
labor, who is not supported
Bagel Restaurant i
by the community, belongs to
the class who are called
happy; as it is written, "If
thou eat the fruit of thy
hands, happy art thou" (Ps. ii
128:2). — Tana d'be Eliyahu L.0
Best Wishes for a
I Happy New Year
Best Wishes For The
Southfield at 13 Mile Rd.
Best it fishes
For A Happy New Year
Happy New Year
Crown Cloak Co., Inc. I
Manufacturing Ladies' Coats I
New Year Greetings
& SUPPLY CO.
R. Schwartz — Cy Lisnow
Time marches on and the past fades
with it. Each generation forms its
own link in the chain of events.
Sooner or later the good triumphs
and that which is left molds into dust.
PAK sends Happy New Year Greetings
to all at ROSH HASHANA
The Jewish Newsi
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