September 17, 2019

Briefs: Book offers guide for deaf B’nai Mitzvah; Janitor fired for causing ‘Bar Mitzvah from Hell’

‘Signs’ a Blessing for Hearing-Impaired Teens

The Orthodox Union’s Our Way/National Jewish Council for Disabilities (Our Way/NJCD) is now publishing “Signs of Bar Mitzvah,” a handbook for deaf and hard-of-hearing teens celebrating a bar mitzvah orally and in sign language.

The handbook is an illustrated guide that features step-by-step instructions for signing the blessings before and after the Torah reading and the blessings made by the student’s father. The blessings are written in Hebrew with transliteration and English.

“Many parents with a deaf child are overwhelmed with their child’s deafness. They tend to focus on the child’s physical needs and often unwittingly overlook the child’s spiritual needs,” said Rabbi Eliezer Lederfeind, Our Way director.

The guide was created with the direction of T’chia Kastor, a deaf artist, and the assistance of the Our Way Sign Language Committee.

“Signs of Bar Mitzvah” can be used by any deaf person called for an aliyah.Our Way/NJCD is making the handbook available for a suggested donation of $18.For more information, e-mail or call (212) 613-8234.

— Staff Report

Grinspoon Offers $300,000 in Grants for Youth Philanthropy

The Harold Grinspoon Foundation is offering $300,000 in grants to start youth philanthropy programs in 10 communities.

The foundation will award $30,000 to each community to start a B’nai Tezedek program, which asks teens to contribute a minimum of $125 of their bar or bat mitzvah money to an individual endowment fund. The foundation matches the contribution to help the teens establish a fund of at least $500, from which they make allocations every year.

The program, which started in western Massachusetts, where the foundation is based, is already up and running in 37 communities. The grants will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis, the foundation announced in a press release.

“It is essential to the future of Jewish society that we get our teens involved in giving to charity in a personally engaging way, and equip them with the tools to become financially intelligent donors,” said Harold Grinspoon, founder and chair of the foundation.

For more information, visit

— Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Janitor Fired for Causing Bar Mitzvah From Hell

In May, a Canadian judge ordered the city of Montreal to pay $20,000 in damages for a bar mitzvah ruined by a drunk janitor, which the city tried to cover up by claiming the bar mitzvah boy wasn’t Jewish, CBC News reported.

The Neumann family, who had reserved space at a cultural center for 350 guests, arrived to find the janitor drunk, according to court testimony. The janitor sexually harassed female guests; stole ice and then tried to sell it back to the family; refused to put toilet paper in the bathrooms; did nothing when several paraplegic guests became trapped in a broken elevator, and when a musician had a heart attack, refused to call 911.

When the Neumann’s requested an apology from the city, they received a 40-page defense statement, which included an accusation that they were lying about being Jews. “This was a party from hell,” said Peter Neumann, the bar mitzvah boy’s grandfather.

The city has since taken responsibility and the janitor was fired.

— Staff Report