Talking During Services

A family friend told us about their temple using an interpreter at the Rosh Hashanah services. The three members who used the interpreter sat to the side in the front for the best view of the service and interpreter.
Now, talking during services is tradition. Even my mother, who values services and follows along, refuses to sit near the front because she wants to chat with her neighbors. But it’s possible to go a little far with the talking thing, but in some cases — people forgive.
My parents took me to services when I was three-years-old. Apparently, I talked loud at times (c’mon, a deaf toddler has no concept of whispering). My mom apologized to the rabbbi. Knowing about my challenges to learn to speak and lipread, he responded, “It was music to my ears.”
When my grandmother was 93, she got frustrated when the rabbi’s sermon went on and on. At one point, she said, “I wish he’d shut up” and it was not whispered. We all turned red-faced.
Back to the interpreter and the three folks. Apparently, a man was talking up a storm, making points. It was obvious to even those who didn’t know sign language that this was more than an traditional chatting. Yes, sign language is quiet. However, the eyes can’t help but dart toward the signers and it can distract those praying. Was this going overboard?


  1. Thanks for the tidbit about the rabbi’s comment! It made my smile for the day!
    What’s sauce for the goose is also for the gander. If a hearing congregation member can chat, so can a deaf member. Perhaps, like hearing people who sit in the back so they can chat, so should the deaf group and their interpreters.

  2. You got it, Dianrez. Since most people I know who want to talk avoid sitting in front — that’s what the signers should do. They can still sit close enough to see the interpreter clearly, but not disturb as many folks.

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