by the Forward

William Tepper

Rabbi William Tepper is a leader in both our congregation and our community. He came to us after 15 years as a high school dramatic arts and English teacher and community theater director in Toronto, Ontario. Then, he, with the support of his wife Deborah Tepper, decided to study for the rabbinate — not an easy decision with a teenage son yet to begin college. Rabbi Tepper is almost totally deaf. He developed progressive sensorineural hearing loss as an adult, and is now able to perceive only the lowest frequency tones with a hearing aid. Despite this disability, he is able to fulfill all of his responsibilities as our spiritual leader, including conducting complete religious services, teaching Torah and leading study groups, educating children for b’nai mitzvah and candidates for conversion, and leading all life cycle events. He is also quite active in ecumenical and other community events. How does he manage to do all of this? The best example I am able to give is his Shabbat morning Torah study. Seated at an oval table with over a dozen members, he is able to understand us, often with a bit of patient cooperation by lip reading alone! He is also readily available during the week by text messaging and by telephone, utilizing a voice to text operator to “hear” us. Most of all, he and his wife are loved and admired by all of his flock.

— Ethan Ruben

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