Cherish, Kophos, Assum: Deafness in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Stephanie Poole, Gardner-Webb University


Excerpt from Introduction:

There are approximately nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States today (Mitchell). Collectively, these people form their own community with their own culture in the midst of mainstream America. This cultural group is referred to as Deaf with a capital “D,” while a lower case letter “d” is used to refer to the physical state of being deaf. Some elements that are characteristic of Deaf culture include the value placed on Deaf children, Deaf schools and the use of their own language, American Sign Language.

To the Deaf in the United States, American Sign Language is “the cement that binds the Deaf Community” (Schein and Waldman 4). It is the most central and defining aspect of the American Deaf community. American Sign Language, or ASL, is a unique visual language that has its own grammar, syntax and word usage that are separate and distinct from English. ASL is so crucial to the Deaf Community because its visual nature makes it easier for the Deaf to use than any spoken language. While not all deaf people use ASL, it is the preferred mode of communication for many Deaf people throughout the United States and Canada.