Sign-language interpreters will lend a hand to the deaf

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Israel in the Gardens will once again reach out to the deaf community.

A sign-language interpreter will appear on the main stage during the opening ceremonies. All films shown at the June 6 event will be subtitled in English. And an interpreter will lead a 2 p.m. docent tour of the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s “As It Is Written” exhibit about the history and production of the Torah.

In addition, interpreter escorts will be on site to accompany any deaf person who asks for help getting around Yerba Buena Gardens, said Elizabeth Stone, an educational consultant who spearheaded the deaf initiatives.

“It’s really terrific and brings a whole new group of people to the park,” Stone said. “Not all are Jewish — people [come] from the wider community because so few community events are accessible to the deaf community.”

Stone got the word out by partnering with Deaf Media, a Berkeley nonprofit that develops cultural, artistic, educational and professional opportunities for the deaf community.

“I’m excited about opening up this event so that we can bring families together — some deaf, some hearing — so that everybody has access to our programming,” Stone said.

Last year, deaf individuals and their families came to Israel in the Gardens from as far away as Santa Rosa.

Michele Berke and her husband, who is deaf, came from Fremont last year with their 4-year-old son. The interfaith, bilingual family speaks English and American Sign Language, and they are always looking for community events that are accessible for deaf or hard-of-hearing people.

“As a Jewish woman, I appreciated the chance to share my heritage and culture with my family in a way that each one of us could be involved,” said Berke. “We’re glad that ASL interpreters are being provided again so we can enjoy the afternoon together as a family.”

Sign-language-interpreted docent tour is at 2 p.m. June 6 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F.

$8 for adults, free for children. Reservations required.

Contact Elizabeth Stone, [email protected].

Stacey Palevsky

Stacey Palevsky is a former J. staff writer.