Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, writes in his book, Lights of Holiness, of the imperative to bring light into our lives.
“[Man] rises toward the heights until he feels crushed and desperate, but his spirit is at once renewed, and again becomes luminous. It ‘is a forward and backward movement, like the appearance of a flash of lightening.’”
Kook’s words capture the meaning of this season: we are reminded to see light to reaffirm our direction, reinvigorate our spirit, and reinforce our sense of purpose.
For our lovely client, Jenny, illuminating an inner light is practically all that is possible, as Jenny is both deaf and suffers from narrowing and dimness of vision, due to usher syndrome, a progressive deterioration of the retina. Every morning, Jenny would wake at 4:30 a.m.; dress; navigate the elevator in her Bronx apartment, and the dawn dusted sidewalks and the fluorescently filtered subway staircases and trains, to alight to work in Brooklyn. Jenny worked tirelessly for five years, before being hit by a car on her way home last March, causing her to remain out of work.
Jenny uses “tactile sign language” as she no longer discerns the movement of hands in motion. Instead, Jenny feels others’ hand signs with her own hands. After the car accident, Jenny‘s employer used a visual system with an interpreter to inform Jenny of her rights-like a version of Skype or FaceTime-but Jenny could not make out the screen. Jenny asked for an interpreter whose hands she could touch, but she was not provided with a tactile interpreter. Shortly after, Jenny was fired.
The law center has committed to representing Jenny in the new year. How could we do anything less, especially when the collective lights of all of our traditions demand restoration and renewal right now, and really for all times.
And to our cherished community, we thank you for your generous support this past year which has permitted us to represent Jenny and other indigent deaf New Yorkers in need. We wish you a healthy, happy and radiant year ahead.