By: Joseph Jacobs
Disease of the ear, generally beginning in infancy, causing deafness and consequent dumbness. As with blindness, Jews, at any rate in modern times, have shown a marked tendency toward deaf-mutism—in the general proportion, as compared with non-Jews, of two to one. The following table indicates this:
|Place.||Time.||Christians per 10,000.||Jews per 10,000.||Authority.|
|Prussia||1881||8.85||14.38||"Zeit. Stat. Bureaus für Preussen," 1882, p. 190.|
|Berlin||1880||4.52||6.66||Leibrecht, quoted by Hartmann, "Taubstummheit und Taubstummbildung," 1880, p. 48.|
|Holland||1870||3.36||7.67||Eulenberg, "Realencyc." s.v. "Blutverwandschaft."|
There appears to be no distinction between the liability of Jews and of Jewesses in this regard, though the proportion of females so afflicted is slightly less among both Jews and non-Jews. There is some evidence to show that the liability is racial, or at any rate congenital. A. Guttstadt ("Verbreitung der Blinden und Taubstummen im Preussischen Staate," p. 139) points out that the proportion of those who became deaf and dumb after birth is practically the same among Jews and Christians—3.2 as against 2.7; whereas there were 6.5 per 10,000 congenitally deaf among Jews as against only 3.4 among Christians.
The reasons for this inferiority among Jews are probably their continued residence in towns and cities, their general tendency to nervous diseases, possibly the result of continued persecution, and their tendency to consanguineous marriages. Thus, in 1882, of the twenty-eight families represented among the inmates of the Jews' Deaf and Dumb Home, London, the three families resulting from first-cousin marriages had an average of three deaf-mutes among them, whereas among the rest only an average of 1.2 was found (Twelfth Report, p. 16).
As the Jews have suffered most from this disease, it is perhaps only natural that they should have done much to alleviate it. Jacob Rodriguez Pereire was the first to invent a means of training deaf-mutes to utter articulate sounds, and thus prevent their depending upon signs. His method has been the foundation for all modern improvement, and has been reintroduced during the present generation, the chief exponent of the method in England being also a Jew, Mr. J. Van Praagh.
- Hartmann, Taubstummheit und Taubstummbildung, p. 48, Stuttgart, 1880.