A new summer camp, Camp L’man Achai, is becoming available in the United States in August of 2014 specifically for Jewish boys. Yehoshua Soudakoff, the camp director, recently hosted the first mini-summer camp division for deaf children in Moscow and it was a success. He is now bringing the Deaf Jewish camp experience to boys all over the world through Camp L’man Achai.
Profile: Yehoshua Soudakoff, a young Deaf Rabbi who is 22 years old was recently ordained after intensive Judaic studies in Canada and the United States. Born from California, he has served Jewish communities as a rabbinic intern and offers his opinions on his website.
Soudakoff has offered innovative ways of getting young children interested in going to the camp such as encouraging them to create a video explaining why they should be selected to come to the camp. Normally, the selection process is done using three deaf Israeli judges who will pick the winners after watching their videos. At this time, attendees have already been selected.
One of the challenges that the boys will have is understanding that not all boys will be signing in one language. The boys will have to use their cerebral skills and learn to adapt to the other boys culture and sign language differences. The languages that boys will be exposed to include ASL, BSL, FSL, ESL and ISL. They will need to communicate using universal gestures, body language and hopefully through other hints. Soudakoff has noted that communication will not be lacking since they will have interpreters on hand that will be available in case communication might be lacking in some areas. During the first year, most of the attendees will be American but will have international campers as well. Some exciting things that the boys will get to see in ASL includes Deaf counselor led Torah studies and social time around campfires listening to stories.
Details of the program: This year, the Deaf division will run from Aug 7 to Aug 18. The program will be offering an array of sports and recreational activities such as soccer, swimming, boating, fishing, archery, photography, crafts, as well, as daily Judaic lessons and a host of Jewish programming.
It seems that the biggest struggle is that not only is there an lack of Jewish summer camps for deaf children, but there is a larger issue of accessibility and accommodation of Jewish programs that should be available for the Deaf.
Soudakoff quoted, “In the United States, very few deaf children receive a Jewish education because cash-strapped day schools aren’t able to provide the necessary resources for them, such as interpreters or teachers trained in educating the non-hearing. Thus, even children from traditional families end up in public schools, where they miss out on crucial Jewish experiences and learning during their formative years.”
For more information contact Yehoshua Soudakoff directly through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the camp’s website.