A rabbi had vision problems. So he created a Sefer Torah in Braille | national news


Joshua Axelrod Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PITTSBURGH – Rabbi Lenny Sarko had a problem that threatened to derail his career.

After spending years as an environmental scientist creating recycling systems for companies nationwide, Rabbi Sarko realized he was done with all travel and decided to pursue a work linked to his only real passion: Judaism. That was 15 years ago, and since then it has been incorporated into synagogues in Indiana; Tampa, Florida, and Columbus, Ohio, before landing at Congregation Emanu-El Israel in Greensburg, Pa., Where he has been for two years.

Before moving to the Pittsburgh area, however, Rabbi Sarko suffered from a serious health problem. About five years ago, he had bleeding eyes from type 2 diabetes which left him with around 80% of the vision in his left eye, but only 10-15% in his right eye. He can still mainly read and his eyesight has not deteriorated further, but the damage was also irreparable, and there are some things he just can’t do anymore, like driving at night.

“I kind of have a foot in both worlds, both those with vision problems and the sighted,” Rabbi Sarko told the Post-Gazette. “Being that and a rabbi, it put me in quite a different position than most people might find themselves in. … Not being able to read was a potential horror story.

“As a rabbi, not being able to access books scared me a lot,” he continued. “It prompted me to say, ‘OK, as a Jew you find solutions.’ The first solution was to learn English braille. After that you start asking other questions like, “If there is English braille, is there Hebrew braille?” ” Yes. … Then I asked the question: “Is there a Sefer Torah in Braille?” “

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