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College of Arts and Sciences News

Kent State Presents Documentary on World’s Largest Deaf Community on April 7

Posted Apr. 1, 2011

On April 7, Kent State University will host a screening of the documentary film “Voices From El-Sayed,” which tells the story of world’s largest Deaf community located in an Israeli Bedoiun village. Director and writer Oded Adomi Leshem will be on hand to discuss the film.

El-Sayed is an Israeli village in the Negev Desert where deafness has been common for centuries. Villagers have their own form of sign language, and the hearing and the Deaf coexist naturally. When one father chooses to get a cochlear implant for his son, it generates conflict in the tight-knit community. With the subtle use of sound and silence, “Voices from El-Sayed” speaks loudly about identity, tradition and culture.

The film will be shown Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m. in room 133 of Bowman Hall on the Kent State campus. Leshem will introduce the film and answer questions from the audience, and his comments will be interpreted in American Sign Language. The event is free and open to the public.

A dessert reception will follow the film screening. The event is presented by Kent State’s Jewish Studies Program and the Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies.

"This event will be great for our students in American Sign Language because it offers a chance to learn about a Deaf community in another part of the world, and to see how the issues they face are similar to or different from those experienced by Deaf people in the United States,” said Jennifer Larson, chair of Kent State’s Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies. “It also offers an opportunity for everyone, hearing or Deaf, to consider the meaning of community and identity from new perspectives."

“Voices from El-Sayed” was released in 2008 and has been shown at film festivals around the world. The film is in Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles.

“This documentary is a moving and evocative portrait of El-Sayed, where deafness is part of the culture,” said Chaya Kessler, director of the Kent State’s Jewish Studies Program. “It’s a fascinating film that raises important questions about tradition and change.”

For more information, contact Kessler at or 330-672-8926.

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Media Contacts:
Chaya Kessler,, 330-672-8926
Bob Burford,, 330-672-8516