Rabbi Darby Leigh: On Elul

We thank Rabbi Darby Leigh of Kerem Shalom for teaching us about Elul and sharing his ASL interpretation of Psalm 27. Watch his pre-recorded videos to learn about Elul, its connection to the High Holidays, and Psalms 27. To see the English translation for Psalm 27, visit Sefaria at this webpage.

Kerem Shalom outlines its accessibility and inclusion services on this page. We thank Kerem Shalom for making its services available to the Deaf and hard of hearing community.

The pre-recorded video of Rabbi Darby Leigh's teaching was captioned by Caption Anywhere. 

Shabbat shalom!

Visual description: Rabbi Darby Leigh, a white man with dark brown short hair, is dressed in light blue button down shirt inside a navy blue suit. He is also wearing a wire framed glasses, beard and mustache. While standing in front of the brown wood paneled wall, he explains in ASL about Elul. The video is captioned.


When we interpret prayers into ASL, we focus on the spiritual meaning of the text, not word for word verbatim. During the process of "ASLizing" prayers, the Hebrew to English interpretation often does not match up with the English translation. 

For this reason, this ASLized version of Psalm 27 is not captioned. To see the English translation of the prayer, visit Sefaria at this webpage.

Visual description: Rabbi Darby Leigh, a white man with dark brown short hair with an hearing aid exposed on one side, is dressed in light blue button down shirt and a blue patterned tie inside a navy blue suit. He is also wearing wire framed glasses, beard and mustache. He is standing in front of a brown wood paneled wall and is signing Psalm 27 in ASL. The video is not captioned. To see the English translation of this prayer, visit Sefaria at this webpage.


We thank Amy Cohen Efron for her rendition of Lecha Dodi presented in ASL at the May 13, 2022, ASL Shabbat service. 

To see the English translation of the prayer, visit this linkhttps://www.sefaria.org/Lekha_Dodi.1.1-2.4?lang=bi

Visual description: Amy Cohen Efron is a white woman who is seated in front of a green backdrop. She is smiling as she signs the Lecha Dodi poem. She has dark brown shoulder length curly hair and is wearing a three quarter sleeved red blouse. A Shabbat candle is on the left side.

Lecha Dodi is a poem that is often considered to be the highlight of the Friday night synagogue service when we welcome Shabbat (Kabbalat Shabbat). The poem conveys the love between God and the Jewish people. Shabbat is a gift - an expression of love - from God to the Jewish people. 

In this poem, Shabbat and God are compared to a couple under the wedding canopy. The deep love between the couple on their wedding day is a metaphor for the love between God and the Jewish people. We reaffirm our love with God every week on Shabbat. 

The writer, Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz, imagines that on Shabbat we all can become "one with God" one day a week. Shabbat is holy or special because we set it apart from weekdays when we work. We take a pause to appreciate the special relationship we have with God. Shabbat is a symbol of God’s love for us.



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Special thanks go to UJA-Federation of New York for their financial support.


This eNews is made possible through a collaborative effort of three organizations that comprise the ASL Shabbat Coalition (ASC): Hillel at GallaudetJewish Deaf Congress, and the Jewish Deaf Resource Center.


Hillel @ Gallaudet promotes inclusive Jewish educational, religious, social, cultural, and communal activities at Gallaudet University by creating opportunities for diverse expressions of Jewish life among students.


Jewish Deaf Congress (JDC) is an inclusive and accessible Jewish Deaf national organization, network and resource center, rooted in Judaism and Deaf experiences, cultures and values of lifelong Jewish learning to discover, connect and flourish.

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Jewish Deaf Resource Center, a pluralistic national nonprofit organization, builds bridges between Jews who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the individuals and organizations which serve the wider Jewish community through advocacy, communication access solutions, education, inclusive public policy and practices, partnerships, resources, and training.

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