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Series of BSL Inclusive Shabbat Services Launched.

Manchester Reform Synagogue held a groundbreaking Shabbat service this weekend when British Sign Language interpreters led the prayers for members who are profoundly deaf. BSL is different from the sign language we are used to seeing on our televisions.

It was the first of 5 programmes spread throughout the year and is being made available beyond Jackson’s Row via Zoom. Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen, Manchester Reform’s principal Rabbi, has a deep passion for community building and has taken a leading role in the yearlong planning to get the service underway.

“One of our regular shul goers, Neil Kostick, has been attending for 26 years but because he is profoundly deaf he’s never been able to follow the service,” Rabbi Robyn explained. “I also had another deaf person wanting to convert so I was determined to find a way to help to make shul more accessible, and to increase our inclusivity.”

“I’ve been praying for this,” said Neil through his interpreter. “The deaf community I belong to has been unintentionally excluded but now I can understand and follow proceedings. It has been a life changing experience to have an Aliyah and not have to be prompted,” he added.

The Jewish Deaf Association is determined to maximise the interest. “We need to train interpreters to help broaden the campaign,” said Sue Cipin JDA’s Chief Executive. “We want to extend the opportunity to include the range of Jewish family occasions.”

To hear more about the series of BSL services, online or in person, contact:
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