Halacha concerning the deaf.

This ran as a sidebar to the cover story in Jewish Week in May 1995.

Halacha Sidebar:

The most authoritative and widely disseminated writing on halachic issues involving deaf Jews is "Halacha Concerning the Deaf and Hearing Impaired," which was compiled four years ago for Our Way and sent to hundreds of Orthodox congregations around the United States and Canada.

It is the work of Rabbi Mordechai Shuchatowitz, the spiritual leader of Congregation Agudas Israel of Greenspring in Baltimore and a member of the Ner Israel Rabbinical College Kollel. The 11-page document covers the use of hearing aids on the Sabbath, "spoken mitzvahs" such as saying Kiddush or reading the Megillah on Purim, hearing the shofar blown, and whether deaf Jews can count in a minyan.

"I thought many people would find this information helpful," said Shuchatowitz, who has four children who all have either severe or profound hearing loss. Among the halachic points Shuchatowitz makes:

Rabbi Fred Friedman, another Baltimore rabbi who happens to be deaf, said the last time he was excluded from a minyan was about 15 years ago.

"It's not a problem for me these days," Friedman said.